Chefchaouen is the world famous Blue City. The 5 hour drive from Rabat through agricultural areas and more rural villages kept the curiosity building. The glimpses of the melons, corn and sugar cane fields, donkey carts and fields of the dreaded plastic scourge kept us entertained.
Of particular interest were the saltpans that just appeared at the side of the highway where the salty water provides an economic outlet.
Would it really be as vibrantly blue as depicted in documentaries such as Rick Stein’s food safari? Why blue? Apparently various theories, but the predominant one is that the very large Jewish population used the traditional blue and white dyes found locally to protect the walls from the humidity in winter, but it could also be that blue repels mosquitoes. The question remain unanswered.
Well the panorama introducing us to the city sitting under the protection of the Riftz mountains certainly was interesting but still the city was a curiosity.
Parking in the old city is at a premium. So we survived a rather challenging walk with our luggage through narrow twisting alleys and under grape pergolas and past many trinket stalls to our second riad – Hotel Lina.
The complete contrast of noise outside to the dimmer, soothing interior was marked. Our standard welcome drink was freshly squeezed orange juice…..and it was welcome! The pool and spa for massages etc were very inviting but we only ended up having a short time in the pool before we headed off to dinner later in the evening.
An early afternoon search of the Kasbah Square uncovered Hamsa – a rooftop cafe where the gf falafel, huumus, goat’s cheese and chashews were yum. More orange juice indicated the abundance of oranges in the area…as well as hashish grown in the mountains apparently, though that wasn’t on the menu. The views from the shaded rooftop, and the cat which curled up behind me made the whole experience a very pleasant one.
By this stage our rooms were ready and a brief siesta gave temporary relief from the heat. Then it was off to the spring fed waterfall and rock pools, and the walls above the city, where a soliatary ostrich (we are in Africa but not expecting this), 2 peacocks and the endless cats were confidently preening. Lots of blue and white and colourful shopsellers and goods….definitely The Blue City. Plenty of history at various turns and twists, set alongside homes and shops and the communal oven where daily breads are brought to be baked.
We are getting used to the typical Moroccan meal menus too. I am sure by the end of the tour we will have sampled plenty of the local fare……and put a dent in the orange supply.
After the tension of bushfire news for T&L’s family back in Queensland, and the many steep steps and streets we walked, and a pleasant tagine dinner, the lure of the very comfy beds was too tempting and we headed off for an early night.
The 4am skinny garbage truck outside the window (the daylight view from the window below) kept further sleep at bay and the 5am call to prayer from the nearby minaret has been the sound accompanying this writing. Though LSM’s snoring has done a good job of competing! 😀 Only 2 hours til breakfast, then driving to Fes. The adventure continues.
PS. The bushfire news from home confirmed T&L’s daughter’s house was still standing, but sheds, tanks and camper trailer all gone. Family safe and possessions smokey but retrievable. Not the best news when so far away and their parents feeling a bit helpless, but all the community of Stanthorpe will pitch in and support.
Farewell to the truly Blue City.