In blogging, I can only share with you through words and images. But if I could share with you through smell, the smell of Morocco would be woodsmoke and mint. Two days and two towns in, I can safely say I will likely forever associate those smells with Morocco. And after today in the beautiful blue mountain town in Chefchaouen, I would also probably have to add the smell of hashish.
Chefchaouen, the blue city
Early this morning, Keith and I had a full Moroccan breakfast of coffee, tea, cheese, olives, bread, egg, and sweets. Then we hopped in the cab with our trusty cab driver Mohammed, who drove us the 2 hours from Tangiers to Chefchouen, through the ever-mounting Rif mountains. About halfway there, we stopped at this stunning lookout point for a stretch and photo.
The view from our balcony
We spent a relaxing day, wandering through the blue-hued medina, haggling, and making the gentle climb up to the ruined mosque on a small hill facing the city. Why is the city blue, you may ask? The predominant color used to be green, a color more associated with Islam, until the Jewish population became more predominant in the 1930s and painted many things blue. This is what caught Sarah’s eye as we were doing our trip planning research. She added to our must-see list, and I am so glad she did.
This is what happens when you ask Isa to pose nicely against the pretty blue wall
As Isa observed, we spent our Sunday very much like a Moroccan would have – a hike, a walk through the town, and lots and LOTS of mint tea and good food. We even did a little haggling, and started buying a few souvenirs to take home with us – a leather bag and hanging lamp for me and Keith, textiles for Sarah and Isa.
The view from our walk up to the abandoned Spanish mosque
The kasbah, viewed from a terrace in the medina
Haggling is a part of Moroccan culture – if you give the shopkeeper the first price he asks, he will not respect you. But, once you agree on a price, you have entered into an arrangement, and you must purchase the item. Keith and Sarah abhor haggling – it irritates Keith, and makes Sarah so nervous she can’t watch. And so it leaves me and Isa to make the deal. With the combination of my French and him being Muslim, we have been pretty successful so far.
One of the million street cats in Moroccan cities. This calico looks so sweet against the blue.
My goal is to make the shopkeeper come down more than I go up. Here is how the haggling went down for my meta and glass lamp, which will hang in my bedroom:
Three doors, three blues
All that haggling made us thirsty, so we found a 3rd floor terrace with a view of the town to drink a mint tea and snack on Moroccan pizza, made on a pita-type bread. Then, we meandered back to the hotel to catch a view of the sunset.
As a perfect end to our day, we took the recommendation of our Riad hostess and went for dinner at Casa Hassan, a thoroughly Moroccan establishment decorated in a charming classic style – wood and pillows everywhere, and a fireplace in the courtyard.
Over sizzling tajines and fluffy cous cous, we laughed until I cried, and I was so very glad our friends were with us in Morocco.
Tomorrow, it is off to Fes with Mohammed II. For now, bonne nuit!