Chefchaouen is Cool
Chefchaouen is cool even when its 110 degrees outside ; think dreadlocks mixing with laid-back mowhawks. Walking through the medina, residents greet me with a friendly “Hola,” “Bonjour” or “Hello.” They ask me for nothing as I walk the medina alone, except perhaps a visit to their store or restaurant. This must be the friendliest city in Morroco.
I ask for directions to the plaza, and a young boy walks me in the right direction. When I offer him a few dirhams for his effort – a practice expected in cities such as Fes – he takes offense. I feel rude and relaxed at the same time.
The last time I was here was December, and I cozied up to the fireplace in Casa Hassan, a lovely riad just inside the medina. This time I enjoy breakfast on the terrace. In July the pounding heat helps me appreciate the coolness of the blue painted alcoves surrounding doorways in the medina.
The city was setting up for the Chaouen music festival, Alegria Achamalia.
The plaza was cut in half by the stage. It seems every city in Morocco is home to a music festival these days.
But, Chaouen, like every city in Morocco, is not just a Moroccan city. It has a unique mix of influences, not the least of which is Spanish, that surprises our Moroccan friends who are visiting the city for the first time. “I didn’t know…” they say with wonder “…just how relaxed it is here.” Perhaps they expected a small mountain city packed with hash-smoking hippies and accomodations geared towards the same. They find a lovely, clean urban center with cafes and shops lining cobble-stone walkways.
We pull into the city at night, and watch men, women, families, groups, and individuals casually meander the streets. Chefchaouen is the only city in Morocco where let myself get lost in the medina without a not of nervousness in my stomach. I quickly learned residents don’t want to be in my picture frame, but they are happy to have me snap shot after shot of their lovely medina.
“How do you like Chefchaouen?”
“I love it.”
“Thank you. You are welcome here.”