Chefchaouan, the Blue City, what a magical place! Miles McFlattery, our campervan, is parked high above the city at the peaceful Camping Azilan (N35.103179, W-5.16033). Tall trees and shade abound, the staff are wonderful and happy and we have a great view of the town below.
We left Tetouan this morning for the 65km trip along the N2 to Chefchaouan, passing through rolling hills and valleys on twisty turning roads. Lots of big trucks made the going slow, turning the short distance into a 2-hour long drive, but with the gorgeous scenery to captivate our attention, I barely noticed the time.
After completing the endless campsite forms capturing all our passport details, we set off for a closer look at Chefchaouan. Looking down from the ridge above, the whitewashed houses looked like any other town, but there was a definite blue hue emanating from the alleyways. We followed the steep path down the hill through a passage into a small square, the lower half of the walls all in a pale shade of blue. Our first taste of what was to come!
The streets were quite busy with tourists, so we went with the flow, meandering along the narrow streets, peeking up little alleyways and down steep stairways. We were surrounded by various shades of blue – pale blue, turquoise, royal blue. Pink and yellow flower pots hung on the walls, terracotta porticos covered ornate doors of varying sizes, green trees erupted from between the paved streets. Chefchaouan was vibrant and alive with colour.
The stallholders allowed you to browse without even attempting to approach or engage, which enticed me to step further into the shop for a closer look. I’m not a good shopper and when I have a sales person hovering over me, I run a mile. Leave me to my own devices and I’ll come right inside and spend my time looking. Tell me to come look look before I have a toe over the threshold and I’m gone before they can blink.
Our cameras worked overtime. Every corner was captured, every blue hue recorded, every alleyway snapped and stored. We tried posing like Instagrammers but laughed too hard to hold a sexy pout. There was so much beauty to behold, so much quaintness and creativity, so many happy smiles. Chefchoaun really is an enchanting town and try as you might capture it on film, it will instead capture your heart.
Little wizened old men in pointy hooded robes hobbled past. The Arabic jilbab as I found it was called. Made of thick wool or thin cotton, depending on the temperature, this is the standard dress code of most of the men in Morocco. The women all had headscarves but few here had their faces covered.
Tai stopped to buy what looked like a fishcake, but it tuned out to be the most delicious potato cake, heavenly spiced with turmeric and herbs. He went back to buy 10 more!
This is only our second town, but the Moroccan love of all things sugar and sweet is abundantly clear. Sweet pastries fill glass confectionary stands, pyramids of baklava have many an attendant bee and huge hunks of nougat are towered on tables. If you have a sweet tooth like me, walking the streets is like running the gauntlet. It’s the internal struggle between tasting new things and still fitting in your clothes! If this was a taste of what was to come, I was going to be in trouble, but for now, it was all new, exciting and exotic and I was going to taste it all!
We continued along the blue streets, passing amazing doors, colourful mosaic tiles brightening up the drinking fountains and interior stairs, noises, colours, smells and scents overloading our senses. Leaving the old medina, we found ourselves in a large central square with the clay walls of the Kasbah towering above us. Restaurants spilled onto the pedestrianised walkway with the accompanying calls to “Come to eat here? Good prices! We have a rooftop terrace!” following us as we wandered by. But we had a destination plotted into Maps.me and nothing was going to divert us.
Jeanne had a system of finding good restaurants. Go to Tripadvisor, search for a nearby restaurant and filter by price (cheap or middle range). So far we’d hit winners and tonight was no different. We climbed up a steep narrow set of stairs to a rooftop area. The Muezzins were trying to out call each other over the rooftops of the town as we sat down. Jean-Francois disappeared on a quest to procure some wine, which he managed to do a few blocks away. Moroccan whiskey was poured. Nope – no alcohol in that, it’s just their name for mint tea! The trick is to pour it from a great height into little glasses, which the waiter did with a great flourish. It was delicious, minty and so sugary that you could probably stand a teaspoon up in the mixture.
Moroccan salad to start. Tomatoes, onions and peppers finely diced and liberally sprinkled with cumin and olive oil. Refreshing and delicious. Next were tagines all round. Jeanne and Theo had the goat, but my aversion to anything goat resulted in a lamb tagine while Tai had a kefta tagine. The Kefta tagine is small little meatballs, cooked in a tomato, onion and pepper relish with a poached egg on top. Put it this way, if the food continued to be so wonderful we were most definitely not going to starve in Morocco!
Piling into a taxi, we made our way back up the hill to dear old Miles. Another wonderful day in what is fast becoming one of my favourite countries. The scenery, people, food and endless beauty. Morocco has it all and I’m so happy to be able to explore it!
I had been smelling gas and had realized I had a leak somewhere and we hadn’t been able to use the fridge on gas for the last few days, so when we arrived at the campsite, Theo took a look and quickly found the problem. The adapter on my gas cable wasn’t fitting snugly on the gas canister. A quick saw to shorten the metal probe and we were back in action again. We also opened up all the hatches to see what was wrong with the fridge and determined that it was just the igniter switch that was faulty, but the fridge was working fine. Hooray! No need to limp along anymore!
We have had so many issues with Miles during our previous 6 month trip to the Balkans and now again. Chatting to fellow campervanners we are definitely not alone, it seems to just be the nature of campervanning. What we have been incredibly lucky with is having found so many wonderful people along the way to assist with their time, knowledge and elbow grease in order to get us up and running again. From amazing British Dave doing the dirtiest job of fixing our loo, to Zagan in Belgrade, to the electrician in Zlatibor who refused to be paid and now Theo here in Morocco. This is a shout out to you all with the hugest of thanks for keeping us on the road and allowing our dream to continue!
Here are a few more photos of the enchanting Blue City of Chefchaouan…