Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A day in the "Blue City"



On Thursday we finally took the journey into the Rif Mountains to see Chefchaouen. Tétouan is in the Rif Mountains and is sort of a gateway for tourists headed up to the famous "blue city".


   Our trip had a rough start. We were stuck in traffic for a long time because of paving on the only road up into the mountains. Our driver got out and yelled at various people numerous times. It was  good, as it gave us a chance to sip water and eat some snacks without doing it in front of him. When traveling it's hard to only eat and drink in private, but we always try to respect Ramadan.


This was worth a photo as they were clearly moving their whole house with a tiny car.


This nearby goat was clearly oblivious to the traffic and fumes.


Phoebe in the taxi.


Once we were going the view became pretty amazing.


Getting there was a bit nausea inducing with all the winding mountain roads and a Moroccan taxi driver at the wheel. Eventually we did get there though. This is a mural near one of the gates to the medina.


With our photocopied map from Green Olive Arts we wandered in and promptly got lost in the hot sun.


While we were lost and confused I snapped a shot of an interesting window.


After a few hot minutes, we did find the souk. Chloe still managed to smile for the camera in the heat.


We were looking for Aladdin Restaurant though to eat lunch off the street and get out of the heat. It's always a trick to find a restaurant open during the day during Ramadan, so we had some tips. Of course, it was easier in a tourism hot spot like Chefchaouen though! Anyway in the souk we met Maria (on the left) who was a Spanish lady living in this city and happy to show us around without any other motives (like an uncle's rug shop as a destination, for example).


Even with a map these old medina's are confusing so Maria was a huge help!


Eventually we found it. It's obviously themed for tourists.


When we entered hot and sweating it was, of course, up 5 flights of stairs, but we've gotten used to lots of stairs here.


The view from the window.


At 5 flights up, the view was spectacular.


Here I am waiting for the very slow waiter. During Ramadan, the wait staff is fasting at any restaurants that are even open, so often they are pretty grumpy.  Honestly, though, having spent a day with fasting Muslims I can completely understand this. Keep in mind it's not socially acceptable here to abstain, even if you're not particularly religious.


After eating I went to the balcony and snapped this picture of the Kasbah, which is right in the square in this medina, not all the way at the top like in Tétouan. This one is not abandoned. It offers tours and inside is a garden, an ethnographic museum and a gallery, but because there was a holiday they closed.


So we had to be content with just walking around it.


We stopped here and rested in the shade. This region of Morocco was so comfortable and then on June 21, the first day of summer, the temperature just shot up, (but still nothing like home, in Phoenix.)


While we rested this kitten came over and played with our backpack straps.


In fact cats and kittens were everywhere, but it's the same all over Morocco.


This place was magical though.


Every alley was more stunning archways.


Amazing architecture and doorways.


After resting we shopped for a bit.


These are pigments for sale.


This shop sold soaps and bath oils and everything you'd need for the hammam. (I don't know what's in the glowing jars).


Naomi in the soap shop.


Another little goat in town.


Rugs for sale.


Eventually we stopped at a little cafe for coffee. This city was more aggressive with sales and calling out to us as we passed, but it's full of travelers. In fact, my kids who've been struggling with dressing not to offend and hiding when eating or drinking to respect locals were appalled by the tourists from the U.S.A. and China, walking around in half shirts and swigging from water bottles. Of course we've been trying to live here this last month and these tourists are just drifting through from place to place. If they offend someone they never have to see them again. 


After we ran out of dirhams for the day we hunted down a taxi and headed back down the mountain at break neck speeds to our place in Tétouan. Chefchaouen was worth the trip and I'm so glad we saw this beautiful city. 

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