Trekking around Chefchaouen
After my previous trip to Morocco (Tangier, Meknes, Fes, Moulay Idriss & Volubilis) in June with 2 friends from the US, I decided I wanted to take a trekking trip to get off the beaten path, as they say. While out shopping in the Medina of Meknes with my friends, I ran into 2 brothers, Bruce and Abdellah, who were kind enough to invite me to come down to Chaouen where they had a small store (Moroccan jewelry, rugs, poofs, etc.) and an apartment. I agreed that I would come back after my friends returned to the States.
I spoke with Abdellah several times while I was in Spain to plan our trip which would include both business (Moroccan olive oil sales) and some sightseeing. I figured 7-10 days would be enough time to get a flavor for the area of Chaouen and get down to Meknes to meet with Olive Oil producers (the farmers who actually grow the Olives). So that was the plan…when does anything go exactly according to plan! I left from Algeciras, Spain to Ceuta, Spain on July 12 on the 10am ferry, Acciona Transmediterrea (€36 each way if you book ahead online, otherwise €41 at the port) which takes about 40 minutes to arrive in Ceuta.
Once on the ferry, I got a beautiful view of the Rock of Gibraltar from the south side. From the terminal in Ceuta, I walked outside and asked for the bus to the Frontera (border area with Morocco, even though Ceuta is in Africa, it still belongs to Spain like Melilla more to the East) from the gas station attendant. Since I speak Spanish, communicating was not a problem (most people in Ceuta speak some if not fluent, Spanish, Arabic, French, English…etc.) and was directed in the general direction. As I was walking to the bus stop, a man, who turned out to be a tour guide from Ceuta, started walking with me as he was going home for a few days of rest after working for 6 days in a row with a tour group from Russia. He assisted me in finding a bank machine, currency exchange office, a cold drink and insisted on walking me to the bus stop so that I would not get lost. A few years ago, I would have immediately put up my guard and told this guy to bug off! But after a year of living in Spain and traveling around Morocco, I’ve become much more comfortable with touts and am getting pretty good at recognizing the nice ones from the scam artists…yes there are some of them also and you need to be a little cautious, as in any tourist place on earth. Anyway, we walked along with him telling me about the history of the place and the history of Morocco before the Spanish and the French, on how to be wary of pick-pockets, rates for grand taxis, buses, great trekking routes, etc. Within 10 minutes we had arrived at the bus stop where I tried to give him a few Euros for his help and companionship but he refused and wished me well on my future travels. This kind of behavior/courtesy/hospitality I would come to realize exists, in abundance, everywhere in Morocco and is a common custom of the incredibly hospitable people of Morocco, especially the Berbers! The bus, no. 7, takes 15 minutes to get to the border and costs 70 cents (€) each way. When at the border, you have to walk to the customs booths to get stamped at immigration and clear customs. All this can be done on your own without the touts help in filling out the customs forms, which will be given to you at the booth by the immigration officer. This not like most border crossing, the booths are mobile trailers lined in a row with auto traffic in between for folks traveling in their cars. It’s quite a chaotic place but just keep your wits about you, even though it may be 100 degrees with people cutting in line, and you can be across the border in 15 minutes.
On the other side, WOW! What a stark difference from being in “Spain” to being in Morocco in just 100 meters. Ceuta is modern with well manicured parks, fountains, fortresses, hotels, restaurants, etc. while Morocco is barren and dusty. The grand taxi stand is just on the other side of the border with taxis ready to take you to anywhere that will connect to anywhere to get you anywhere you want! The grand taxi, or shared taxi, is usually 50 Dh/person with up to 6 people total per taxi to Chaouen. The taxi won’t leave until it’s full but since I was traveling alone, I took the whole taxi for 300 Dh straight to Chaouen instead of going to Tetouan and changing into another taxi there, though that would be much cheaper, next time I’ll go that way or try taking the bus from Tetouan (only 5-10 Dhs). The driver was quite confused getting out of the border town but it was because he was trying to get to the taxi registry office where he has to show my passport and tell where he is taking me, this really made me feel a lot safer. Once on the road, we passed by endless resorts in Smir (including a brand new water park) all the way to Tetouan, but from there we started heading into the mountain range and more inland. July in Morocco, phew, it’s HOT, bring plenty of water! The driver and I talked a little bit along the way, his Spanish was not too good and my Arabic was even worse, so the universal sign language talk had to do. He stopped along the way to show me cool and interesting things, like a dam which made this aqua marine lake surrounded by abundant pink and blue flowers and lush greenery! Most people think of Morocco in terms of sand, sand and more sand, boy are they MISTAKING!!! This part of Morocco, the Rif Mountains, is a naturists, rock climbers and trekkers dream! Rolling hills lead into 1800m – 2500m high peaks with deep green valleys, waterfalls, ice cold rivers made from natural mountain springs and endless postcard vistas of the Mediterranean Sea.
Okay, I should tell you at this point about the “other” side of the Rif Mountains…second only to the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan, India, and Nepal for hashish and kif production. That’s right, Islam and The King look the other way when it comes to growing marijuana here, after all it brings tourism, i.e. money and its better then drinking alcohol but that’s just my view. There are entire mountain sides covered with the magical herb but don’t try to pick any, there is ALWAYS someone watching! I found that out when I was out trekking, but I’ll get to that in a bit. One and a half hours after leaving from the Frontera, I arrived in Chaouen! The Blue color of the city is at once calming, cooling and mesmerizing! Driving up the hill coming into Chaouen, you come across a ruined white wall with a blue door and NOTHING else! This is your welcome door to Chaouen; there is another one at the opposite City entrance.
Once the taxi dropped me off I quickly found an older gentleman who, in French, told me how to get to Hotel Andaluz (around the corner from which is Bruce & Abdellah’s store), and found an elderly man to guide me there. The guide looked to be around 60 and not in the best of health with a bad left eye, but he had me gasping for breath half way into the climb up to the Medina. He had lived his entire life in Chaouen hence the natural ability to climb narrow cobble stoned streets with the greatest of ease. He got me to the store and along the way we managed to pick up a local drug pusher, many of those here and all are junkies who will sell you garbage at ridiculously high prices. Better to wait and ask at the Plaza Uta el-Hammam near the Grand Mosquee and Kasbah or even better at the Plaza Hauta café (everyone smokes there, including the bar staff). Plaza Uta el-Hammam has many restaurants/cafes to sit around and pass the day smoking or people watching, not that that was what I did mind you! I came here to trek but really you can’t get away from it here, especially in the mountains since most of them are used for marijuana cultivation. It just adds to the surreal effect this place has on you the moment you arrive!
Abdellah and Bruce were waiting for me at the store and greeted me as though brothers parted for many years, a warm hug and kisses on both cheeks, as is the custom here and around the world, just not in the so called “Civilized Nations”. Immediately they took to making me comfortable, with fresh mint tea, ice cold Chaouen spring water (which is bottled and sold as their own brand of spring water, but here it’s FREE!), fresh SWEET melon and assorted other fruits and since we were already at lunch time, they ordered up some of the BEST lamb tagine (traditional Moroccan dish made in a clay pot with all the ingredients placed together, like a stew but soooo much better!) and fresh baked bread I’ve ever tasted! After lunch, Bruce took me back to their apartment where I got to unwind and take a shower. Even though it’s only 3 ½ hours door-to-door, Marbella to Chaouen, it was mid July and around 90-95 degrees, though a little cooler in the mountains and I had been awake since 5am, I needed that shower!
Feeling rejuvenated, I went back to the store by myself (only got lost once but it’s a small Medina in comparison to Marrakesh so I felt confident plus I could always call Bruce and he would send one of the kids to run out and find me wandering around, that also only happened once…). I arrived back at the store just in time for more mint tea (endless amounts of that here too!) before Bruce took me on a tour of the Medina and its alleyways, all washed in various shades of blue. I asked Bruce about the blue everywhere (which coincidentally, reminds me totally of Jodhpur, India, no wonder I feel so at home in Morocco!), which he said dated back to the time after Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain threw out all the Moors and the Jews from Spain (circa 1490 - 1500s Spanish Inquisition) when the Jews came and settled in this part of the Rif Mountains (incidentally, they stayed here until the Spanish, Franco’s regime, threw them out, again, in the early 1930-40) and they were the ones who first painted the town blue representing the color of the Jews (meaning heaven and sky, therefore God). But today the effect has a cooling, mesmerizing trance-like walk through the multitudes of streets, alleyways and stairways that go seemingly straight to the sky (it’s tough walking around looking up at all the beauty while trying not to tumble back down the stairs so WATCH YOUR STEP!). You can look at the pics I took to get an idea of what I’m talking about but you truly have to walk in it to FEEL what it’s like! We continued our walk upwards along Ave. Hassan I to Bab al-Ansar (the eastern Medina gate) and out of the Medina walls on to a walk way that leads over the Ras el-Maa river. You’ll see women washing laundry in bins with spring water setup by the local and Spanish govt’ along with children playing near by. From here we follow a path, made most likely by the goats and their herders over the years, towards the Old Ruined Mosque on the opposite hillside. From here you get some of the best views of Chaouen nestled between “The Horns” of the twin peaks stretching skyward behind it. Truly BREATHTAKING!!! BTW, at the mosque, beware of truant dealers trying to sell you crap, just be nice and say “la shukran”, no thank you in Arabic. Bruce then led me back to the Medina and into the main upper square, Plaza Uta el-Hammam, where there happen to be going on “The Chefchaouen Annual International Music Festival 2008” with performers from all around the world! I’ve lived in NY City most of my life so I’m used to going to Central Park or just walking around “The Village” and finding these kinds of events but this little place in the mountains of Morocco seems to me to have as much culture and diversity intermixed within all the faces from all around the world as does NY! We hung out and listened to some music and had some coffee in the square for a bit, as Bruce is quite the wrapper and writes music also, which I found out later on the trip! From here we went back to the store to find Abdellah surrounded by 7-10 local children ranging in age from 9 months to 13 years old, some related, others from the neighborhood but all like ONE FAMILY. It’s amazing how readily these kids are willing to share everything with each other, though sometime the amount of the sharing may come into conflict but even that is short lived as the older kids will step into provide a remedy which no one argues with. Why can’t the “adult” politicians of the world act a manner which comes so natural to these kids?! Well, I spent the rest of the early evening playing checkers & gin rummy with the kids, eating ice cream which I brought for all the children and drinking more mint tea… I will never get tired of mint tea w/honey! In the middle of getting clobbered at checkers by Rida, a 13 year old boy, who helps Abdellah around the store, 2 British chaps walked up to the store looking for Abdellah, seems he invites everyone he meets to come and visit him in Chaouen and they do! They had met him, like me, in Meknes earlier and decided to come down and check out Chaouen. In their early twenties and ready for adventure we all hit it off really well talking about trekking, Morocco, England, how we all hated GW Bush, etc. David, Johnny & I planned/decided, with the help of Abdellah, to go on a trek early the next morning to Izilane on the other side of these peaks and back to Chaouen by later the same night (roughly 8-10 hours trekking R/T, depending on the individuals pace and ability) and Abdellah managed to get us a guide he knew to go with us on short notice. We spent the rest of the night eating, talking, laughing until the early hours when it hit us we had to be up in a few hours to go trekking!
The next morning, I got up with help from my phone alarm at 7am, took a shower and left to meet the guys for a quick breakfast and then on to a day of trekking. I walked around and around for 20 minutes because I could not recognize ANY of the streets in the Medina, NO LANDMARKS from the day before, all the stores closed! Oh no! Okay, don’t panic, just keep walking, those guys’ll wait for me! Same thing happened to me in Marrakesh in Dec but at 3am, much scarier. Anyway, I found my way to the Kasbah and found no one there! We’re supposed to meet at 8am and it was only 8:20, they wouldn’t have left already, would they?!!! Hmmm….finally it hits me! I forgot to set the time back an hour from Spanish time to Morocco!!! Aaarrgghhh! I could have slept another hour?! Oh well, remember the glass is half full. I started looking/walking around the Plaza snapping a few pics in the early morning light, best time of the day for natural lighting! Activity in the square started picking up after a half hour, restaurants started opening and soon thereafter, David & Johnny showed up too, like proper Brits at ten minutes to eight. They both had a good laugh at my expense when I told them about not setting the watch to the right time. We sat down at the closest café and shared awesome omelets, fresh fruit juices, and a couple of cups of hot coffee, all the while looking out for the guide. Well, by 9:30 the guide still had not shown up, so we decided to wing it! All in agreement…aye! We went trekking on our own and said the hell with the guide, we don’t need no stinkin’ guide! We were right; the three of us each had our trusty Lonely Planet guide and the rest we left up to the kind and hospitable people of Morocco. Best decision we could have made though we had no idea at the time!
The three of set off to the Bab al-Ansar to find out from the guy in the store that we had to go the Bab al-Majarrol, one of the north gates leading out of the Medina to the path that leads to the road which then leads back to a different path which is the one we take to get to Jebel al-Kelaa’s 1616m peak then onwards and upwards to 1800m Sfiha Telj Pass and then it’s all downhill from there…got that, it’s actually easier when you’re there, I promise. With cameras and Lonely Planet travel guide in hand, we set off after filling our water bottles with free Chaouen water, little did we realize we had not brought the most important thing of all for our trek…cigarettes!!!! We had finally started on the trail by around 10:30, not bad all things considering. It was a gloriously bright morning that got HOT an hour into the walk. The higher we went, the higher the sun got above us…we took it easy the first hour until we started seeing the cannabis fields starting to appear around us then we began to see larger and larger fields the higher we got. Around 800m we came across a small camp ground or so we thought, it was the field workers summer residence! These are the guys that take care of the fields and are the EYES of the hills no matter where you go though you’ll never see them unless they want you to. They invited us to sit down and the next thing that happened took us totally by surprise though it really shouldn’t have, they began to feed us fresh baked bread and lentil soup alongside mint tea (they have a mud oven made for making bread and a bunch of propane tanks for cooking and making tea spread out within make-shift tents made of ragged tarp and wood for the posts all tied and held together by hemp rope, talk about green living). Here we ran into a couple (and not for the last time during this trek) from the UK, Tom & Mariam, who were also trekking to Izilane and also came into the camp by curiosity more than need. They were treated to the same courtesy we were. After filling our bellies with good energy food and spending 30 minutes, we continued on our way, grateful for the refreshment, but more for the open hospitality. The views from here to the top just got better and better every meter we climbed! Breathtaking vistas up every bend and down every valley, absolutely incredible! We managed to make it to the top by just past mid-day when right on cue, the clouds rolled in from the north side of the mountain like we were in some spooky horror movie except it was serenely beautiful and perfectly cooling to walk in the mist of clouds then the heat of the Moroccan sun. At one point, the three of us sat down at the edge of a rock out cropping and gazed in awe at the site of clouds rolling up right at us from a drop of 300 – 400m! Neither words nor pictures can describe what we felt and saw from that vantage point that day, truly INSPIRATIONAL!
Eventually, we started down the mountain towards Izilane and Hotel Izilane as Abdellah had suggested where we would find Abdel Kadder, the owner and a friend of Abdellahs’. We would stop when we came across some rock formation that screamed to be climbed or saw a valley laid out in front of us that were the lushest green and seemed to disappear into the clouds at the bottom of the hills, which means we stopped a lot! So much natural beauty here and yet most people think of Morocco as nothing but sand dunes! Boy are they wrong! Five hours and countless cannabis fields later we arrived at Hotel Izilane, though the hotel sign had it spelled, Hotel Azilane, either works I guess, depends on who wrote it, the French, Spanish or Moroccan and where you read it. No matter how it’s spelled, it’s a place not to be missed. Nestled on a ridge overlooking a long green valley covered with his cannabis fields and mountains all around, the vistas are reason enough to make this trek but once you meet the owner, Abdel Kadder, you will be glad you came! He is the type of man that everyone wants to be his/her grandfather, sweet, caring, fussing about making sure everyone is happy and satisfied with EVERYTHING while they are in his care!!! When we arrived the thought was to make it back to Chaouen before night but all that went out the window once Abdel Kadder began feeding everyone vegetable/meat tagine, and fresh Kif from his fields as a dessert along with fresh fruits also from his own “Garden of Eden” as he likes to call it…with the abundant hospitality, calming/serene vistas and loving care our host pampered us with, it’s the closest thing to Eden I’ve seen in Morocco! We played backgammon with Tom & Miriam, who arrived an hour after we did, looked at the hotel register with Abdel Kadder for hours since he is so proud of the fact that travelers from over 30+ countries are represented in his register for this little, out of the way, hotel with 6 rooms and endless HOSPITALITY all for 150 Dh a night (roughly $18/€13). Finally, around 2 am I went to sleep, recollecting thoughts from an amazing day in the Rif Mountains…not knowing the best was yet to come! End of day one.
The second day began with the sounds from the barn of sheep, chickens, cows, cats, dogs and a rooster calling in a new day! Nice, much better than the sounds of garbage trucks and police sirens in the concrete canyons on NY City! J I got out of bed in the same clothes that I wore all day yesterday, since we never planned on staying an extra night, “always be prepared”, was my slogan in the cub scouts so much for that. I showered and then went to join Abdel Kadder for some tea up on the terrace before anyone else had awoken. We finished our tea and sweet bread and he told me how much he loved India even though he had never been, but he had met many people from India and saw a few Hindi movies back in the day. According to him, all the Indians he ever met were good honest people like his people, the Berbers of the Rif Mountains. He and I developed a cool little bond because of this and he took me by the hand down to his fields, a personal tour. While we strolled along shoulder high cannabis plants for as far as the eye can see, he told me about his life and the history of the Berber people in this area, what it was like here when his father was alive, what it was like to try and survive from the land, what it was like when the Spanish kicked out the French and how the infighting between the Berbers tore apart relations that had survived hundreds of years. He liked meeting people from all over the world; it made him feel like he had visited all of those 30+ countries that were listed in his hotel register. I know this man grows and sells cannabis for a living but it’s what his family has done for centuries, before some Idealistic Western Government decided that it should be made illegal. Anyway, don’t get me started down that road. My point is that here is GOOD DECENT HUMAN BEING, enriching all those who have the privilege of meeting this small statured man with boundless hospitality, calmness in his eyes and a delightful smile/laugh! After about an hour of walking around and talking, we returned to the others so he could get breakfast ready and hot tea for everyone. Since it was Tom, Miriam, David, Johnny and I, oh and this Swedish guy who sat all alone in the corner the whole time and went off for walks alone, were the only guests at Hotel Azilane, we really got the royalty treatment. Everyone else there said it was thanks to me that we were being treated so well, they had also noticed that Abdel Kadder had taken a distinct liking to me over the others (I can’t help it if no one else knew Hindi songs, which Abdel Kadder absolutely LOVED!), though no one seemed to mind all the extras that they were being given due to their association to me. LOL! I’m glad I could help! Tom & Miriam decided they loved Abdel Kadder and the place so much they were going to stay another day…or two…we on the other hand had to hit the road if we were going to make it to God’s Bridge in Akchour and back to Chaouen before night fall. This time we really had to get back because the Brits had to leave to meet other friends flying in from London to Marrakesh. It’s amazing how flexible plans can become when you’re not in a 5x5 cubicle with a boss hovering over you every 10 minutes asking for this that and the other thing!!!!
Dave, Johnny and I set out about 10am towards Afeska where we planned to re-stock on supplies for the day, namely cigs! Anyway, we stopped in to find the only store was closed because the owner had to run off and fix a tractor that had broken down, we were quite dejected by this news, the villagers saw the disappointment on our faces. Immediately, one of the guys yelled out to a young boy something in Berber which I couldn’t understand since it’s nothing like Arabic, at least not to me. The boy and another younger one sitting beside him took off running for the dirt road, apparently in the direction the store owner had just left for a short while ago. The rest of the village kids came running around us and screaming “HOLA!”, the only Spanish they know surely due to all the tourists who visit the area and think that Hola is a greeting the local kids must understand…why, I don’t know. I think Salaam Alaykum would be more appropriate, don’t you? Anyway, the man (Abdul, an acquaintance of Abdel Kadder, like everyone else in these parts of the mountains!) who sent the 2 kids off came to us and asked us to sit under the tree in the shade while some of the kids ran off to get us mint tea. He offered us kif in the same way a bartender offers peanuts while waiting for the drinks to arrive. We sat around and stared at faces for twenty minutes, since only one guy knew a few Spanish words, the rest spoke their native Berber…no matter as they were as hospitable as Abdel Kadder and everyone else we had encountered during this trek. The store owner returned with the 2 kids in tow after just a few more minutes. He seemed almost apologetic to us because he wasn’t at the store when we arrived. He spoke a little bit more Spanish and Arabic so that I was able to communicate to him that we were the ones that were grateful to him for coming all the way back on our account. He immediately opened up the store and we brought all the cigs, trekking munchies and energy bars we needed and then I went on to buy a bunch of candies for all the children (10 or so) that were still running around us screaming HOLA. This made the store owners day as well as the children while I made friends for life right there, no doubt about it! We left from there waving and screaming HOLA! to the kids who followed us for almost 10 minutes until they seemed to reach this invisible barrier, stopped and ran back to their village. We continued on from Afeskar toward Imizzar for a few hours taking in all the incredible views that appeared seemingly around every bend, ridge and valley and taking a few paths that were not really on the Lonely Planet map…or on any other map! We found ourselves walking in what was a rivulet/drainage ditch, surrounded by very sharp prickly bushes that opened up onto a terraced kif field. We knew the dirt path had to be above us so we climbed through thick shrubs, trees and marijuana plants until finally came back to “the path”. That lasted until we came upon Imizzar where again, we somehow found ourselves walking in rancid smelling drainage areas with no apparent path to be seen, so we followed the way to the homes we could see, sometimes being shooed away by local women when we came too close to their homes but with a kind smile would point us in the right direction. Then it happened again, an old man sitting under a tin roof, by a fire with a pot on it, waved us to sit down when we asked if this was the right direction to Akchour. The next thing we you, there were chairs, a table, a steaming bowl of lamb tagine, fresh baked bread from the mud oven we could see across from us and of course, mint tea set out for us as though we were family that arrived after a long journey and they were expecting us all along!!! The old man laughed with us, while his granddaughter (4-6 yrs old) kept peeking out from behind him and smiling at us. There were a few chickens, goats, dogs, cats, etc running around when the old man’s son came around the corner with a large burrow, ready to set off for work, little did we know we would run into him & his burrow again on the trail. We ate until our bellies could hold no more, got up to offer the old man money but he would have none of it! He said something to the young boy (10-12 yrs old) who then got water for us to wash our hands, and then lead us for at least 40 minutes in the direction of Akchour, I made him take 20 Dhs and a few cigs for his grandpa who was eyeing them while we ate but would not take any directly from me. The kid smiled back at me with this incredibly warm smile and said Salaam, turned and ran off through the kif fields back to his village. We continued down through a massive chasm that dwarfed us from both sides, following the river, Oued Farda, towards Pont Farda, stopping there to drink, soak, and generally cool off in the fresh mountain spring pool that is right at the bridge. Once across the bridge the climb began again to the top of the mountain ridge along mule trails, which at points are no wider than 18” across with drops going 300-400m straight down, simply STUNNING/GORGEOUS views!!! It had been mostly cloudy that day, luckily kept the temp comfortable the whole way until we reached the peak of this ridge and the clouds broke, a cool wind picked up and below us in the valley, a COMPLETE RAINBOW materialized right before us!!!! Needless to say, the three of us stopped with mouths agape and started shooting a bunch of pics, the whole time saying, “Can you believe we’re in MOROCCO?!” It was too BEAUTIFUL for words, so the pics will have to do.
Finally, by around 5pm, we got to the entrance to the gorge that leads to God’s Bridge. They have a serviceable hotel/camping area with a restaurant and many taxis at the entrance that can get you back to Akchour and beyond. We began our trek into the gorge and found after 30 minutes we were on the wrong side of the river. Luckily a little further ahead the river narrowed and a young boy of 8 years screamed at us from the other side to come down to a point that made the crossing easy for us. Immediately upon crossing, he made himself our guide, if it’s your first time, like ours, I recommend taking a guide. We also had incentive to hire him because it was getting darker, especially in the gorge and we needed to get to the Bridge and back out in time to grab a taxi back to Chaouen. This was some of the toughest and most beautiful trekking of the trip, as David will attest to with his slightly sprained ankle incurred trying to cross the river at one of many points. He was courageous though and completed the round trip trek just as the darkness made it difficult to see the path in front of us. Mohammad, our guide was a riot the whole way. Normally, people tip these kids 20-50 Dhs, but he had been so delightful & playful with us but the whole time, this little 8 years old made sure of our safety first and foremost, I gave him 100 Dhs in front of his Dad. He immediately smiled this bashful smile and pocketed the cash with lightning speed to make sure no one else in the vicinity saw the amount of the note! What a GREAT kid!
From there, we walked to Akchour town, 20 minutes down the road and caught a taxi back to Chaouen, exhausted, dirty, smelly, but with ear-to-ear smiles and a gleam in our eyes as we individually recollected the events and sites of the past two days. Mufa jumped into the taxi with us, because he was friends with the driver and he needed to get to the next town over, a 10 minute ride in the direction we were going anyway so no one complained. During the ride he took out and shared a “Carlsberg” beer which made both David and Johnny extremely HAPPY (not many places to drink alcohol in Morocco in general so the Brits smiled at the site of their favorite refreshment, BEER!) and a huge baggie with kif and hash in it. Remember I said earlier not to buy from the junkies in the town if possible, well this is why, Mufa gave me everything he had on him, 40g cube of hash and at least 20g of kif, all for 100 Dhs ($15/€10)!!! We asked if we could smoke in the taxi and the driver and Mufa both laughed and said in unison, “You can do ANYTHING you want because you are in AFRICA!” LOL!!!! I LOVE THIS COUNTRY…CONTINENT!!!
The three of arrived back in Chaouen around 9:30pm, dropped our things off and met back at Plaza Uta al-Hammam, at the same restaurant we had stared our journey almost 36 hours earlier. We laughed a lot over dinner recounting all the things we had experienced and swore to keep in touch, which we do by the way (the beauty of making friends while traveling is that you really do keep in touch with them, at least I do!) then hugged each other and headed off in different directions. Thanks for the fabulous company and memories, and hope to trek with you guys again in the (near) future!!!!!
All this and I’ve only been in Morocco 3 days! Stay tuned to read more about this trip….