Friday, May 22, 2009

Its beautiful quiet little Medina is famous for its blue and white-washed walls, Andalucian influence, and is quite unique in Morocco. Here, Spanish is far more commonly spoken that French. On the whole, Chefchaouen felt signicantly less poor than many of the places we had already visited. Set on the side of a hill in the lush Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen has also attracted its fair share of the tourist dollar.

Blue and White
An image that is synonymous with the Medina of Chefchaouen. Blue and white buildings and uneven stairways.

As soon as we got off the bus, we were conned by a faux-guide. Faux-guides are totally unofficial, and often masquerade as innocent friendly locals, just offering some advice... but they always put their hand out at the end. Assuming he was just helping us with a Petit-taxi, I was surprised when he jumped in as well. In my ignorance, I figured he must live near Bab Suk (the gate to the Medina we were using). Sure enough he ended up walking us to the door of our hotel, and asked for money.

Reluctant, but admitting (to myself) he'd been helpful, I gave him 10 dirham - quite generous at nearly the same as the taxi fair. He complained royally that this was not enough. After nearly three weeks in Morocco, I couldn't be bothered with another argument, so I shut the door in his face. Unfortunately the hotel we had booked decided they actually wanted us to pay more that they told us, so we had to find somewhere else anyway. Faux-guide for nothing.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Later in our stay in Chefchaouen a different faux-guide tried to offer us some advice by pointing out the river and the mountain (which were plain as day to see). I politely said I had no money for him, after which he said I needed to give him 5 dirham. I said no and he gave me the finger and told me to !@#$ off! The next day the same man approached us in the main square, obviously not recognizing us, and tried his speil "Where you from? First time in Morocco?", to which I replied "You told me to !@#$ off yesterday". You could see the recognition click in his eyes as he backed off.

This is actually the first time we've had trouble with faux-guides in Morocco.

We were taking things pretty easy as we were both still recovering from our time in Fes, so we only explored the Medina and the broken Mosque, on a hill just outside the Medina.

Broken Mosque
Dani and the Broken Mosque, overlooking the Chefchaouen Medina.

Only late in our trip did we realise that Chefchaouen is also the "kif" and hash capital of Morocco. We were aware that the Rif mountains of Morocco are apparently the largest hashish producers in the world, but none of this had been noticable until now. Everywhere we went, someone would ask me "Something to smoke?" Or "You want some hash?". No thanks. Many tourists come here just for the hash. Most locals use it and on many occasions we saw even old men snorting little piles of brown dusts off their thumbs (which I can only assume is Hashish). As a result, Chefchaoen has its share of street bums. We saw one guy who must have had too much in his time, as he was perpetually wandering the Medina holding an invisible joint to his lips.

On three seperate occasions we saw disturbing displays of violence in public places. The first being the most alarming - two grown adults - one trying to stop the bleeding to his head with his tee-shirt, throwing punches at another man in the main square. Unrelated, and only minutes later two teenagers erupt into a fierce brawl right outside our restaurant. Prior to this we hadn't seen any violence in Morocco at all.

With all the hassle, sickness and the now the violence, I think it has only hastened our departure from Morocco. We've definitely enjoyed our time here, but we're also quite ready to leave. Dani commented today, three weeks in Morocco definitely feels like three weeks.

The authors going bonkers after three weeks in Morocco.


Anonymous Jo said...

Morocco has done heaps for your good looks!
Happy travels

9:13 AM, May 23, 2009  

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