5 May 2014, Monday
Driving through the Rif mountains to Chefchahouen – green covered mountains, clear skies, grass seemed to be dancing with the wind. It was like a green sea, well that’s how Said described it. Not exaggerating but it was really a pretty sight. We passed by Tétouan, a white city, which reminded me so much of Andalucia.
After about 2hrs, we reached Chefchahouen. All I knew about Chefchahouen was of its blue-washed houses. Dragging our luggages across the square, up and down the lanes in the medina, we finally arrived at our second home in Morocco – Riad Assilah. I love that it’s in the medina. Though some might find it too close for comfort – early morning and late night chit chat among sellers, I found it homely.
We were warmly welcomed by Fathiah, who could not speak English, but that didn’t bother us one bit. Reviewers sang praises of Fathiah on TA! When she brought us to our room which had 3 beds, she suggested putting the luggages on one of the beds for easy access to our stuff and so we could have ample space for prayers. We had 2 nights in the blue medina.
Meals in Chefchahouen wouldn’t be complete without the city’s famous meatballs in tomato sauce. It was my first proper Moroccan meal and definitely cleaned it up! Salad and moroccan bread as the appetiser was a huge portion! Hot mint tea was surprisingly refreshing in the almost summer season.
Chefchahouen is a small city with Morocco’s signature winding streets, which means more opportunities to mingle with the locals. We got lost (again) one day and ended up in the upper side of the hill. Thank God for landmarks (the Kasbah at the square) and for knowing left, right and numbers in Arabic, and we found our way back to the main square.
We went to a leather bag shop owned by 2 brothers. The elder brother shared with us his travel adventures in Asia when he was much younger. From travel stories, we moved on to religion and politics. All in a mix of English and mostly Arabic. It was an achievement to be able understand! How the influx of tourists, somehow raise the cost of living for locals. Some other sensitive issues which was a concern to locals and never known to the world. Was an eye opener. I would love to meet the 2 brothers again.
Fathiah and her team surprised us again. We had washed some of our clothes and hung them in the toilet and room, hoping these would dry up. To our delight, she hung them on the terrace (which has a great view of the medina).
If you are looking for a luxurious home, this isn’t the riad for you. It has aged over the years but the lovely team, clean rooms and freshly made breakfast (importantly, good brewed coffee) made this an almost perfect home.
Initially not knowing what to expect in Chefchahouen, I left the place with a heavy heart. Love the random conversations with the locals, despite the language barrier. I felt a connection.
Said told us his friend (a shop owner) met us the other day. We must be the only Singaporeans in Chefchahouen!
Maybe because we are in hijab, no one tried selling us cannabis. 🙂 Other than that, it’s safe to travel in Chefchahouen. Never felt threatened or unsafe. Don’t miss visiting this city!