Today is our last full day in Morocco and we are in Chefchaouen, a city in the Rif Mountains in the northwest of Morocco. It was a long journey to get here from Essaouira, which was our last stop. To make the travel slightly easier, we traveled back to Marrakesh where we spent a night and then the following day made the ten-hour (575km) trip involving two trains and a bus. Travel here is relatively cheap and the cost of our trip, including first class tickets for the train, was an amazing $40 each!
We originally did not have this city on our list but so many people told us it was a “must see” that we changed our minds about going to Tangier at the end and chose here instead, and I’m glad we did.
Chefchaouen is known as the “Blue City” as many buildings are awash in various shades of blue and this fact is a popular subject of interest. There are several theories as to why the walls were painted blue. One is that the blue keeps mosquitos away; I can however tell you that is not true as I have had several mosquito bites since being here, the only ones I have gotten in Morocco! Another theory is that in 1492, when Chefchaouen received a large influx of Jews escaping the Spanish inquisition, they brought the tradition of painting buildings blue. The blue is said to symbolize the sky and heaven, and serve as a reminder to lead a spiritual life. Whatever the reason, it is beautiful to walk around and see all the shades of blue.
The one main site to see is the casbah, a fortress where the local leader used to live and a defence when the city was under attack. The casbah is from the 15th century and contains a dungeon and ethnographic and art exhibits.
Chefchaouen is at the base of the Rif Mountains. There are abundant natural springs, wildflowers and low lying clouds hovering above the surrounding mountains. For our last day, we spent time walking a trail in the mountains; it was peaceful with birds singing, and we occasionally passed locals who were tending to sheep or goats that were grazing up there. We finished off with a stop at our favourite orange juice stand. The owner keeps the oranges cold by putting them in a bucket that has a continuous stream of mountain water running over them. It was a nice way to spend our last day.
We are about to go out for our last dinner. I know I have said how much I loved the food here but after about two weeks of tagines, I could no longer eat them. We have actually been eating a fair amount of pizza and panini lately. Tonight, however, we are going to have a very traditional dinner with tagine, couscous, and mint tea.
Tomorrow night we will be in Cordoba, Spain.