We arrived in Tangier, in northern Morocco, by plane late Thursday night. I am not sure how, but somehow we survived the ride from the airport to our hostel. Our taxi driver skillfully, and I mean very skillfully, maneuvered the car up, up and up the steep, EXTREMELY narrow streets staggered with people in the dark! We were literally within an inch of 6 inch thick stucco walls on either side of us for the last 15 minutes of the ride. I felt like we were living inside of a Dr. Seuss book! Exciting and terrifying at the same time! :0
We were fed an immaculate breakfast on the top floor of our Airbnb; Dar Jameel. We gazed out over the city as we ate hot crepes with butter and jam, and sipped on freshly squeezed juice. This was our first meal in Morocco. We were immediately impressed with the food.
Down at the bus station we purchased tickets to Chefchaouen for 10
€ and were then shuttled onto a bus. We sat and waited on the bus for an hour before we began our long journey south. There was a booty in every seat. The fabric was dirty and ripped. The bus wreaked of potent BO and gas. There was no air conditioning, so don’t worry, that winning smell combo tantalized our nostrils while we sweated it out the whole bumpy bus ride to Chefchaouen- yee haw! Welcome to Northern Africa! That unforgettable ride inspired me to pen this additional verse to The Wheels on The Bus,
“The smells on the bus make me gag, make me gag, make me gag. The smells on the bus make me gag, all through the town!” 🙂
After a 2 1/2 hour bus ride, we arrived in Chefchaouen! I had read a little bit about this beautiful little city set high up in the Rif Mountains and it looked and sounded so romantic, almost magical! I thought it would be bubbling with tourists, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. We hiked from the bus station up the very steep, never-ending road to the medina in search of our hostel. The streets were almost completely deserted. The few people we did see stared at us like they had never seen another person of our kind before. I felt like a total alien.
Once inside the medina I was on sensory overload. Narrow winding streets flooded with people carting everything from sandals to home-baked sweets. This was our first experience inside of a Moroccan medina and it was overwhelming. It was a total maze. We were hot, sweaty, starving, and exhausted. We wandered around like two blind mice at the mercy of Google Maps trying to find our hostel. After walking an extra 2 1/2 miles we finally found our hostel in a little alcove that we had walked past 3 times!
We dropped our packs and headed out to find food. Rob found a restaurant that he really wanted to eat at, so even though we were starving, we walked around the medina for another 2 hours waiting for the restaurant to open at 7pm. I was a tad hangry while we waited, but it was WELL-WORTH the wait! And I would definitely wait again! The meal we had at Beldi Bab Ssour was literally the best thing we ate during our entire stay in Morocco. Rob had almond ox tail and I had the lamb tajine. Absolutely amazing authentic Moroccan food!! We left happy and slept like babies that night.
Early Saturday morning we explored the city. Best decision we could have made! Most people were not awake in the heart of the medina so we had a great opportunity to take photos of anything that we saw. I was so fascinated by all of the unique and beautifully hand-crafted doors. The detailed woodwork was incredible. Near the edge of the city, people were already busily at work; washing laundry in the river, setting up shops, preparing food, etc. We were humbled to see the people working away at the same tasks that we do on a daily basis, but without most modern conveniences. Yet they worked happily side-by-side. For those few moments we had the privilege of being apart of their world. That was by far, my most favorite part of our experience in Chefchaouen. We are not so different from one another. Each of us with desires to be happy and love and care for our families in the best way we know how. We do it everyday all over the world.
Chefchaouen was not the mysterious or majestic city that I thought it would be, but for me, it was enchanting in its own way. It was raw and unfiltered. We loved it.