A Dream in Blue

The lovely thing about travelling with wide timeframes is that you have the flexibility to go to places on a whim. We hear about Chefchaouen in passing, a brief mention of the name in an online trip report. Out of curiosity, we look it up and are enchanted by the description of the place. On our second day in Morocco, we show up at the bus station in Tangier and get on a bus headed there.

From the road, Chefchaouen town appears like a white jewel amongst the Rif mountains. The bus turns off the main road and ascends toward Chefchaouen. It stops in a quiet bus station at the bottom of the town. We disembark. No taxis in sight. Our first task in Chefchaouen is to climb the steep road to the medina, sweating under our backpacks and the midday sun.

The medina of Chefchaouen is painted in shades of blue and white. The small medina streets echo with the sounds of footprints and of families and shopkeepers preparing for the ftour. The volume climaxes towards evening, until the sound of a wailing siren signals the end of the day’s fast. Then silence. As darkness descends, the dim lights of evening turn the medina’s blue into lavender, which you drift through as if in a dream.

The other prominent colour of Chefchaouen is green. Marijuana green, to be precise. From the moment we arrive, hustlers whisper “hashish?” to us in hushed tones. We come to understand why on the following day, when we decide to hike up Jebel el-Kelaa, the peak towering over Chefchaouen town. Halfway up the mountain, we find a crop of healthy looking marijuana plants, irrigated by fresh spring water trickling from a natural source. Fields of marijuana grow by the road and stretch up into the mountain above. Apparently, Chefchaouen is the marijuana capital of Morocco – perhaps explaining the relaxed nature and the psychedelic colours of the town.