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Chefchauoen, Morocco – Our Funky Cold Medina

Seriously, am I the only person that remembers this song? Anyways, enough Tone Loc – let’s move on!

In Morocco, Medinas refer to the Arabic part of the city. To the best of my knowledge, basically every city will have a Medina and a Ville Nouvelle which is the newer, French part of the city. For us, staying in the medinas (which is where we stayed in both Tangier and Fes so far)feels like we are more a part of the action. This is where the mosques are located. This is where the souks are….this is where the day-to-day activity of Morocco takes place…at least the part of Morocco that we were interested in experiencing. And so, there was no doubt where we would be staying as our bus pulled into Chefchauoen.

Enjoying dinner in the dining room at Dar Antonio

Chefchauoen was a city that we nearly missed altogether in our journey through Morocco. That would have been unfortunate, as it has turned out to be one of my favourite places we have encountered so far. If we would have been moving efficiently, we would have stopped there before going to Fes. However, efficiency is not a word we are terribly familiar with, so it required a short 4-hour backtrack up to Northern Morocco.

Blue streets everywhere!!!

This small city of 40,000 is built into the side of the Rif Mountains. And we knew the moment we arrived, as most of the town is rinsed in various shades of blue. The tradition apparently originated from the town’s old Jewish population, but even today it is something that has been maintained by the Muslim culture. It gives the city such an incredibly calm vibe to it. Especially after the madness we experienced in Fes…

The first thing we noticed about Chefchauoen is that a flat road does not exist….I suppose that is the bugger of being built into the side of the mountain…you are either going up or you are going down. And it was up for 2-3 kms from the bus station to our first hostel, Pension Souika, located right in the heart of the medina.

I actually thought this was a really great little hostel (and cheap at only 120 dirhams/$15 CDN per night) for our own double room, but after two days, we decided to find a place which was a little quieter-I had come down with a bit of a bug, which I suspect was attached to the skanky beef that I had eaten the night before in Fes. And so, we spent the next six nights at the Dar Antonio.

One of the bedrooms at Dar Antonio

Dar Antonio is maybe a 150m northeast of the main square, Place Outa el Hammam. Hicham and his brother Mohamed are two of the most welcoming Moroccans we have met so far, and their cozy 6-suite hotel, was a very easy place for us to call home! It was a little more expensive at 250 dirhams per night (when we stayed for multiple nights), but it was worth every penny. We had access to our own kitchen, which is always important to us, and each room was decorated in incredible detail. PLUS you actually showered in a room that was made to look like a cave! How amazing is that! Thanks to both the brothers for all of their hospitality!

Mohamed and Hicham - AWESOME!!!

Our kitchen

I would like to tell you that we did a ton of thrilling activities in Chefchauoen, but I am not sure that we did. Instead, we simply spent the time sampling Moroccan cuisine, exploring the markets, and just relaxing. Heck, we even spent an entire day lounging in a nearby hotel pool. Who said backpacking couldn’t involve a little sloth and gluttony from time to time?! We had still been moving rather quickly since completing the Camino, and this was eight days of RnR that we felt were very well deserved!

Making blankets on the loom

Apparently just over the other side of the mountain, there are fields and fields of kif (marijuana), which this part of Morroco is famous for…. many a dope-smokin’ hippie has come to Chefchauoen and probably never left. We were offered this fine herb on numerous occasions, but the dirty dealers were always disappointed with the negatory responses they got from us. After awhile, they did begin to recognize us, and just quit asking.

Paint to help keep Chefchauoen blue

Although we never made the hike to the pot fields, we did hike up to the Spanish mosque a few times during our stay. Although not award-winning, it was still pretty cool to watch the sun set, falling below the mountains!

Veggie Market

The other great thing about the town, is that we were finally in a place where we started to get to know people. We had our “spice guy”, our “egg lady”, and of course the place which provided us with ‘to-go’ coffees! For me, these “relationships” (however short-lived) with the locals are always one of the things I cherish…hopefully as we continue to slow things down a bit more, we can find ourselves developing more and more of these relationships.

Chefchauoen also provided us with the most experiential trip to the laundromat. Shawna and I went down to the local river to wash and rinse our clothes with the locals. That is the hardest I have ever worked to make sure my boxers were clean! And Shawna was able to make cookies, and bake them in the local bread oven…another amazing experience, which only comes from stickin’ around a place for a short while.

Laundry Day!

For me, Chefchauoen almost reminded me of my favourite place in all of Australia… Byron Bay! No surf, but a very similar chilled vibe. I could have been there for awhile, and in fact I was even offered a job working at a cafe! But there were other Moroccan places for us to explore, and so after eight relaxing days, we jumped on a bus and headed South for Meknes!

Sidenote: Muslims are called to prayer five times per day: sunset, nightfall, dawn, noon, and afternoon. The call that echos out from the mosques is beautiful and haunting at the same time. Absolutely incredible – have a listen to this video which was even recorded in Chefchauoen (but not by us).

My coffee along with the typical number of sugar cubes Morrocans seem to use in a cup

Our pool day

Blue Door #1


....and #3

The Spanish Mosque at night

Have you every been to Chefchauoen? Morocco? What are we missing? Any advice as to where we should go next?

If you don’t already, be sure to follow Skott and Shawna on Twitter or find us on Facebook!

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6 Responses to “Chefchauoen, Morocco – Our Funky Cold Medina”

  1. PostcardFromBK October 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    ROTFL! We just wrote, but haventmpublished, our Morroco post for our blog and wanted to name it after said Ton Loc song. It’s hard to believe so few people remember it. Next thing you know they’ll be forgetting all about Young MC…

    Besides that, sounds like your time in Morocco has been amazing, wish we had spent more time there…
    PostcardFromBK recently posted..Malaga- me gusta de espeto des sardines por favor!*

    • Skott October 4, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      Thank you for knowing what the hell I am talking about….Shawna, who is admittedly a “year or two” ;) younger than me, has no clue what I am talking about. Yeah, Morocco, is a great place, and awesome introduction to Africa!!!

  2. Brian and Merle October 4, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    Looks to us like you are having a great time.Take care and keep in touch.
    love Brian and Merle

    • Skott October 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      Thanks so much for saying ‘hi’ you guys!!! It truly does mean a ton! We hope you had a great Saskatchewan summer and everyone is healthy and happy!!! Cheers!


  3. Stephanie Weiss October 6, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    I know that song! Just wondering why Skott does not appear to smile much in pictures….?? Love following your adventure!!

    • Skott October 6, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      I guess I am going for that “tough guy” look….got to do what I can to intimidate all these studly Morrocan dudes, so they don’t touch my wife!! :)

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