There are many theories as to why Chefchaouen is dressed in an azure shade of blue, but my favorite is the one in which the first Jew settlers painted the walls blue to resemble the heavens.
Because Chefchaouen is, indeed, a heavenly retreat on earth.
Unlike the metropolitan city of Casablanca, Chefchaouen is more of a quaint little village nestled in the middle of the Rif Mountains. In here, time rolls in its own pace, away from the chaos of the city. The day starts late and ends early, and quiet morning strolls reveal the brilliance of the azure city with the Rif Mountains looming in the distance.
As an escape from our city lives, we opted to stay within the old medina for the entire of our three days trip. Despite the trickles of modern conveniences, the simple life persists, thrives, and captured us. Within the maze of the medina, figures dressed in djellabas shuffled about their daily chores, hoods pulled up to shield against the sun. The figures, against the vivid blue walls, painted a surreal world that effortlessly enamored visitors and compelled us to hammer our shutter buttons.
The locals initially seemed aloof, mostly peering from afar and glancing away as the distance closes, but a warm “assalamualaikum” (“hello” in Arabic) never fails to bring out warm smiles and conversations. Many inquired as to where we come from (I doubt they get many babyfaced Asians around here), and we didn’t expect Indonesia to garner so much interest and enthusiastic response! Vicky gotten so many pats on the back and acknowledgements of being a “brother” that we did not have the heart to tell them we weren’t Muslims.
The old medina may be small, but Chefchaouen was definitely the highlight of our trip. I could still recall every detail of the city vividly – the maze of brilliant blue walls, the cool mountain air, the friendly locals, the amazing food (I highly recommend Restaurant Bab Ssour, a family owned restaurant with the best avocado juice in the world and amazing tuna tajine) and of course, the intriguing scenes captured by our lenses:
My best advice? Leave the map at home and lose yourself within the maze – you never know what you will discover at each turn.
We took the CTM bus from Casablanca to Chefchaouen. For those who are thinking of taking this route – be sure to purchase your tickets earlier as they are often sold out. Since we already knew our itinerary for the entire trip, we bought all our CTM tickets in Casablanca. This actually saved us a few headaches as the bus from Chefchaouen to Fez was completely sold out on our departure date.
NEXT: A Walk In the Past In Fez, Morocco