The Rif mountains are a majestic mountain range on the Northern edge of Morocco.
Nowadays, they are known by adventure seekers as a fabulous place to hike and enjoy the scenery, waterfalls and small isolated villages.
We booked two nights at a dar in the town of Chefchaouen, which is a small mountain town complete with a Medina and a Kasbah.
And we had the intentions of going on a two day hike in a National park, that involved an overnight stay in a remote mountain guest house.
Unfortunately, Jules came down with a nasty bout of stomach flu, and felt so weak and achy, that the prospect of a two day hike, no longer seemed like a good idea.
We arrived at one of the gates of the Medina in Chefchaouen, and called the guest house that we booked, for instructions on parking and how to get to them.
To our surprise, or due to being overly worn out by dealing with the tourists, they did not offer to meet us at the gate that is only a two minute walk from their place, nor to help us find parking.
From what we’ve seen so far, outside of the major cities in Morocco, there are no street markings as to were you are allowed to park and where it is forbidden.
There is also no intuitive logic to parking, as parking is allowed in the most unlikely and inconvenient places, and not allowed in simple and easy places.
Jules tried to explain to the man on the phone where we were waiting, but the man was not so obliging….
Jules who was sick, but still managed to drive us safely to Chefchaouen through beautiful green mountains, started mumbling something about the fact that we were waiting by some blue walls… Which made absolutely no sense to me, as it was clear to me that the man on the phone was not interested in coming to meet nor guide us, and that Jules may not be aware of it….
When they got disconnected, I rang back and got the same response.
“Park anywhere the parking guy tells you, and ask anyone. We are only two minutes away.”
When I explained that the parking guy is nowhere to be seen, and that today is a busy market day and that there is no parking anywhere, I was told that I should park anywhere in the city and take a taxi back to the gate.
In Morocco, if you are a tourist, you can only stand a minute or so looking confused, before somebody out of nowhere, will jump to offer you help.
You can call it another way, and admit that they simply see an opportunity to make a buck, since all help is expected to be repaid by a nice tip, but the bottom line is that these jobless guys can turned out to be very helpful….
So we rolled down the car’s window and engaged the man who approached us at the bottom of the road, when we were debating which way to turn.
At the bottom of the road, we did not need help, still he followed us and waited patiently with the hope that we will change our minds.
He knocked on our car’s window a few times, trying to guess where we wanted to go, but we shooed him away saying we do not need help… Still he waited… Not removing his eyes from us for a minute…
I was determined NOT to stay in the guest house that we booked, after the lack of willingness to help.
We pulled out our IPads and quickly surfed the Internet for other options.
The man still waited patiently…
Now, it seemed that we could make him feel useful and pay him for it.
He was MORE than happy to take us to other guest houses in the Medina, so we can inspect their available rooms, until we find a place we like.
We only had two other great choices in town.
Dar Meziana was the most pricey, but considering that Jules felt so sick and may have to be room-bound for a day or two, I requested to go there first.
It was at the end of a long hilly blue road, with many steps.
A fragrant jasmine climbed above a big wide blue door, studded with big silver nails.
The courtyard was sunny, filled with plants and all the decorations were done with beautiful painted wood.
We asked to see the terrace room, which was sunny and airy with a bright clean feeling and decor.
We saw the other rooms that they had available, but none matched the terrace room.
We booked it for a few nights.
The man helped us with our backpacks and with parking, and we tipped him generously.
When we handed him a crisp fifty dirham note, his eyes moistened with gratitude…. He blessed us and walked away.
We took a stroll into the heart of the Medina, where there are beautiful winding streets, many steps and uphill climbs and dramatic views of the Rif mountains, towering up above the town in all directions.
There were merchants selling crafts to the tourists, as well as many tiny local shops.
Dinner at the nearby Casa Hassan, was included in our room rate.
It was a lovely dinner with good food and sufficient vegetarian options, too bad Jules refunded it all into the toilet, feeling too sick to eat and too sick to walk.
At night, I slept quietly and calmly.
The early morning dawn was announces at 5AM, by the Muezzin song resonating from the valley, calling people for the first prayer of the day.
The song of the Muezzin is something that I learnt to appreciate and enjoy.
Like the chanting of Buddhist monks, or the chanting of the Gregorian monks…… These songs and chants, regardless of your religious affiliation, enter the heart and whisper about devoted people…. Praying for healing, yearning for understanding, asking for a calmer heart… Praying to a God they love and want to know more intimately….
I find these chants and muezzin calls lolling me to sleep….
If in the past, my un-evolved mind and clandestine fears may have had another association with the Muezzin calls, now I feel calmer the enjoy them….
This is good news, because you hear them many times a day, EVERY day here in Morocco.
Some of the Muezzins sing elaborate songs, with charming swirling voices, while other muezzins just read the lines in scratchy voices, hoarse form smoking too many cigarettes…
Chefchaouen is a special town, and if you are planning a tour of Morocco, I would highly recommend you visit it.
It has a lively community and a fair amount of tourists, (though nowhere near the amount of tourists you will see in the Royal Cities) who come to soak in the unique mixture of fresh mountain air, beautiful outdoors, and ancient history and beauty.