The Hat Man in Chefchaouen
In the medina of Chefchaoen there is a tiny shop where a happy guy knits the night away making funky hats, scarves, legwarmers and more. Tiny rainbow hats with animal ears for kids are particularly cute. This past December, I left with a hat and scarf to provide warmth in the mountain town’s cold night. I thought it was a steal compared to what I’d pay for similar set at Urban Outfitters or the like.
Sadly, whilst passing through Brussels in February, I unwittingly left my hat behind in my hurry to exit a subway train. I found myself that winter’s night with cold ears, my scarf forlorn without its partner.
In July I returned to Chaoen (turns out even the Moroccan mountain cities are hot in the summer) and wondered if I could again find the happy knitter’s little stall. Hoping to replace my lost hat but not optimistic I’d be able to locate the tiny shop, I was happy to finally find myself in a medina corridor that appeared familiar. I wandered up Rue Targui and meandered past riad Casa Hassan to a small square. A bit further uphill on the left I found the happy knitter’s shop. In tiny print painted above the stall door it simply stated “Hat Man.” The Hat Man was just where I’d last seen him, knitting away with kittens curled up around him and a candle lighting his workspace.
I explained my sorrow of my treasured hat that I lost in Belgium as looked through his piles for a similar color/style. “No problem. Come back tomorrow and you can pick up your same hat” he told me as he put away his work-in-progress and set out to recreate the hat per my description.
I returned the next day around noon when the Hat Man said he’d have it ready. I was not disappointed. I bought my replacement hat and another warm hat for my travel companion to use this winter. I left feeling great affection for the Hat Man. Voila- a snuggly hat identical to that I left on a European subway again in my hands. How many times in life do you get a chance to replace a little thing that was left behind?
When you go to Chaoen, consider staying at the Ksar Aladdin (+212.65.406.464, rue Rauachid) – like the riad Casa Hassan, its rooms have delightful décor and quirky bathrooms shaped like your own little castle, but all this for half the price of Casa Hassan. The best are the rooms on the top floor (well worth the climb), which include private en-suite patios offer amazing views of the mountains and medina below. While this guest house doesn’t include meal services, the same owner runs the Aladdin restaurant, a swank multi-level joint just off the main square. At the Aladdin restaurant you can dine with a stunning view of the happenings in the square below — enjoy your breakfast a sitting a stone’s throw from the top of the Kasbah tower or have a cozy dinner fireside surrounded by local art.
By guest blogger Vanessa