We left the hotel about 9 in the morning and headed east to Chefchaouen, a smaller city in the mountains two hours away. The drive was beautiful and rural. We passed lots of livestock: sheep, goats, cows and chickens. The road was only two lane most of the way so we did encounter various scary situations, including lots of passing on curves with very little clearance between vehicles. Another popular mode of transportation in this area is donkeys. They would either be pulling a cart or have metal baskets on each side to carry the load.
Chefchaouen is perched on the side of three mountains that were renamed Chef Chauo En in 1955–chef, meaning look, and chauo en, meaning horns.
The city was built in 1431 by the Moors coming from Spain and is surrounded by the old city wall as protection from invaders. The gate would close at 6pm, so if they were not inside the wall, they could no longer enter until they reopened the next morning.
The city is unique and known for its white and blue motif. The blue is used to keep the mosquitoes and flies away and to make it cooler.
We were able to visit a Berner rug shop and see the weaver weaving a rug. They invited us to sit while he explained that the Berbers work in a co-op and the different weavers bring their rugs and blankets to be sold at the shop. There they men do the weaving on a loom, while the women embroider by hand. I bought a beautiful tapestry that was made from cactus silk and sheep’s wool. All of the dyes are natural dyes found in the various plants and flowers in the region. The interesting thing about the cactus silk is that it is fire-resistant and doesn’t burn. He actually held a lighter to the silk and showed no burn marks or discoloration.
We enjoyed a Moroccan meal for lunch, where I enjoyed a carrot salad with honey, tagine with kefta (a slow-cooked dish of ground lamb made into meatballs with a roasted tomato sauce and boiled egg) with crepes with chocolate for dessert.
Afterwards we had a little free time to shop in the market, where I bought some souvenirs for my family and myself. We left Chefchaouen about 4:15 and about 30 minutes after we left we ran into a mob blocking the road. They were holding Moroccan flags, but we never understood for what reason they were “rioting”.
Because they weren’t letting any vehicles through, we had to turn around and find a different route. We ended up driving through the Atlas Mountains, which were absolutely beautiful! We even got to drive along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though the route took an additional two hours, it was so worth it to see more of the Moroccan countryside.
We didn’t get back until around 8pm. We had not had supper, so we walked to a small restaurant and ate chwarma, a shaved meat wrap very similar to a gyro. It was delicious!