We clutched the armrests from the backseat as our driver hugged every curve and sped past cars that were going the speed limit all the way up the mountain. The road was narrow and the steep cliff down alternated between our right side and our left. Four hours on the road from Fes and we had finally turned that last corner to view our particular village that dotted the Rif Mountains. The locals didn’t seem impressed that we came all the way to Morocco and planned Chefchaouen, little bitty Chefchaouen, on our itinerary. And, honestly, the death-defying journey out there had us questioning that decision too. That was until we arrived.
Our driver dropped us off near the mosque at the entrance into town so that he could walk around and attend prayer hour while we toured. As soon as we hopped out of the car, an older man approached us and offered up his name tag for inspection. Hassan asked to be our tour guide for the afternoon while he proposed both touristy and local bits we probably wouldn’t find all on our own. He was sweet and right and made us feel comfortable so we obliged.
Up and down those blue-hued streets, we followed Hassan. And up and down those blue-hued streets, Hassan waited on us to oogle and photograph his town. He was ever so patient with us and would point out details that he noticed we might appreciate.
When we asked why Chefchaouen is blue, he explained that the town is painted with shades of blue to repel mosquitoes and such bugs. We left without one bite.
We went to Morocco assuming we would leave with a Moroccan rug. Then, we arrived and realized how completely out of our league their haggling level was. So, when Hassan suggested a look inside the town’s rug shop, we didn’t think anything of it except curiosity for inside these blue walls. The shop was covered floor to ceiling in stacks of rugs. I’m sure it was a tourist trap on some level, but everyone was so relaxed about it, we didn’t mind. We were shown the in-house weaving machine, but as it was Friday and a day of prayer, it wasn’t in use. Traditionally, the men work the weaving machine while the women sew the rugs by hand. I showed interest in one rug and before we knew it, down they came one by one and if we didn’t like them, we had to tell them ‘la’ meaning ‘no’ in Arabic.
We fell in love with one and the salesman told us, “Of course, you like that one. You can’t help it. You’re American.” implying our expensive taste. We had a price we would pay from research and staying true to our budget. He tried to haggle, but he doesn’t know my husband’s relationship with his budget (his 18 tab budget, 4 of which include graphs and pie charts to visualize investments). He offered us more tea, chatted us up about Belgium, offered to ship it and then suggested the price without shipping. He said it was good luck to purchase then since it was Friday, one tactic that I had read about beforehand that made me giggle. We stood firm. We didn’t need a rug. Hassan met us at the door as the salesman pitched, “Just 25 over! We’ll meet in the middle!” (we were to meet in the middle soo many times!) As we told him that was 25 over our price, Hassan put his hand on the guys shoulder and told him, “It’s Friday. It’s a lucky day!” And with that, he shook our hands.
That was how we bought our Moroccan rug.
I couldn’t help but plan our future family holidays where we’ll spend a long weekend in Chefchaouen, relaxing amongst their cool, calming streets and above the city at their mountain viewing rooftop patios while little bitties play carefree with their new local friends. We’ll take trips out to the waterfalls of Akchour and swim in that gorgeous, deep sea green colored base. We’ll visit our old friends in Fes and possibly spend some time where the Atlantic ocean meets the Alboran Sea in Tangier. What I’m saying here is that it seemed like a great area to travel to with young children (since I’ve gotten that question a bit). Actually, we always keep it in mind when we travel…in case you’re on the lookout for your next family friendly trip. And you already have an itinerary!
Also, when I finished writing words after words – from Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains to Fes and now Chefchaouen – I asked Justin what he thought about our trip to Morocco and he uttered one word, “Spectacular!” So, there you have it, folks!