Another Roadside Attraction

So here it is the middle of another week in Morocco and I find myself in Chefcahouen, a gorgeous little mountain paradise south of Tanger and north of most of Morocco. I’ve been here before and I am certain I will be here again, In’shallah. It’s just such a lovely place on earth. I am enjoying this little trip with my friend Jennifer who lives in Casa, and teaches at an American school. They have a week off so she and her roommate Rebecca decided to make this journey and I decided I should join them. Because, why not?

So before leaving to Casa on Sunday afternoon, by train for 3 hours, in First Class, for 200 dh (or $27 Cdn), I had an interesting mission to complete. I was invited to join an English speaking club in Marrakech. “Uh, you already know how to speak English.” Yah, I know. But I don’t know any Moroccan women so settle down. I asked to stand in as the English speaker by a fellow ex-pat, Kate, who was not able to attend Sunday’s meeting. It’s a group that gets together once a week and they have discussions in English in order to improve their skills. They are all Moroccan women. One is a Professor who teaches Business Strategy and Marketing, another an Engineer who did her Masters in Montreal, and two others work in Agriculture. Lovely women. Intellectuals all of them. Interested in just simply discussing things that are of interest and improving English. We talked about Moroccan cultural views of different things, security and freedom of speech, Canadian French and English politics, and how to affect change in a country that needs to raise consumer awareness for ethical business practices and the environment. It was lovely. We lasted two hours and I look forward to returning to them again.

So the next day we headed out the three of us and spent a night in Moulay Idriss. I had been there before on my trip in October and I had been there just a few weeks ago when I was on my investigative / photo taking exploration. It’s is a beautiful town on a hilltop. A sacred place settled by a Moulay. It’s very relaxing. We stayed at a new to me place – Dar Zerhoune, which is run by an English speaking expat that we did not meet and two not so much English speaking girls who managed the food, tea, and cleaning. Lovely. The only other guests were a family of 4 from Holland who had chosen to spend 3 nights there. Bless them. There is not enough to do in town for three nights so it’s nice that they like board games and reading. We were there for just a night, and it has been snowing and raining and cold this week so we spend most of the evening huddled in the common room with the doors closed against the cold. My room was booked after the other two so I was on my own and it was a gorgeous room. I loved it there. Now I have two great places to stay in Moulay Idriss if anyone is looking for recommendations.

Next day we got up, toured Volubilis which is a nearby site of Roman ruins. Interesting place. Then we headed off to find Chefchaouen. It was a long drive but manageable. As we were toodling down the road marvelling at the farmers plotting their fields by donkey, we came across some orange groves. Then some orange sellers. Then I said suddenly, “Uh, if there are orange sellers here, and the orange trees are RIGHT there, I think we should stop.” And stop we did. I bought 2 kilos of oranges for 12 dh, or about 10 oranges for $1.25 Cdn. (Who are these people that keep saying Morocco is SO expensive?  I am baffled by the places they are going. It’s very strange.) Hopped back in the car and peeled some oranges. Quite possibly the freshest oranges I have ever had. And by that I mean – juicy. OMG I needed a shower after peeling them. The little membrane around the pulp had yet to form so the juice just ran out all over the place. Impossible to break into smaller sections so I had to put a big piece in my mouth and then there was so much juice it sprayed all over the place. Dripping fresh orange juice everywhere. And I was laughing. Because – WOW. So yesterday we ate about 28,000 oranges and it was delicious.

Then we relaxed in Chefcahouen. It is lovely. We had two supremely early nights as Rebecca was not feeling well but we also had some really successful shopping and a wonderful meal at a gorgeous pizza place.

We headed back to Casablanca in one straight shot, with Jen driving. The roads outside Chefchaouen where in pieces. I mean literally in pieces. There has been some flooding recently and I can not overestimate the depth and number of the potholes. There are no road crews out. No pilons. The drive was hard. Driving in Morocco is hard in general – the obstacles make the twisty roads all the more interesting. But Jen did an absolutely heroic job and we made it safely home.

It’s been another lovely Moroccan adventure. A quiet respite from the big city. I have to say, Marrakech is lovely but it is a city and you do need to get out of it often. I love it, and I have SO much more exploring to do here and so much more to get in place and establish, but the country of Morocco is what has my heart, so travelling around is the best thing I can think of to keep busy. Not sure what the next trip will be but I think it will involve the coast. Pretty sure.


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