If I had an ounce of self control, I’d stop the Lord of the Rings references for at least one post, but I don’t have an ounce of self control. I don’t even have a few grams of self control. I don’t even have enough self control to roll a joint with. That’s relevant, because this post is about Chefchaouen!
Katie. What is Chefchaouen. I don’t even know how to pronounce that. Also, are you smoking weed over there?!
It’s easy! Chef (as in Julia Child) – shaow – en. Chefchaouen. And no, but people in Chefchaouen certainly are! Chefchaouen, or ‘Chaouen for short, is a city tucked away in the Rif mountains in Northern Morocco, not far from Ceuta, the Spanish outpost on the Moroccan coast. It’s blue. And awesome. And full of weed-smoking people. Chaouen is located in the biggest region for growing and preparing hashish in all of Morocco, which makes it by far the most laid-back and funny town we’ve been to because everyone there is high. It’s a popular tourist spot for Moroccans and foreigners alike, who are drawn to the fact that there are waterfalls randomly all over the place, there’s great hiking all around the city, and there’s weed.
Also, it’s famous for this door, which stands near the entrance to the city:
There’s an identical one in Issaquah, Washington, U.S.A., which is one of ‘Chaouen’s sister cities. Small, funny world, huh? The one in Issaquah probably doesn’t have Angela peeking out from behind it, though, which is dommage. I want Angela peeking out from behind all my doors. Does that sound weird? Whatever.
Here I am planking.
Yup. I did that.
Chefchaouen was founded by Moorish exiles from Spain, who built it first as a fortress to fight the Portuguese invaders of northern Morocco in 1471. Spanish is more widely spoken there than French, so I had a good time using my few Spanish words like HABLO…POQUITO…ESPANOL! Even that small phrase, tumbling clumsily from my mouth, is a boldfaced (not italicized) lie, because as Ernie will tell you, I don’t speak Spanish. I can understand it, though, which isn’t saying much. HOWEVER, I’m going to celebrate my feeble linguistic victories wherever I can, particularly because I’m not a supergenius with languages, unlike Ernie, AKA Mr. Poopy I Speak Georgian After One Month In Georgia And Also Every Other Language, Like Spanish, Which You Do Not Speak, And I’m Not Modest About It Because I Don’t Have To Be Because I’m Awesome And So Is My Georgian. Ask him how many times I asked how to say “thank you” in Georgian (somewhere around 43 times in 2 days), and then imagine me trying to speak Spanish. Chuckle, because it’s funny. Ask me how to say thank you in Georgian. Then SHUT UP. Tee hee. Just kiddingggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggAnyway, we met lots of cool people, particularly Said (pronounced sah-yeed), who took good care of our group and of my fambam (yeah, my family came to Chaouen! It ruled). He took us on a hike, and his pace and knowledge of the local flora led us to conclude that he must be a 400-year-old Elf, because who else could possess such a light, bounding stride and such sagelike (PUN) wisdom? I believe that he doesn’t even leave footprints when he walks, that he’s actually flying and just pretending to walk to make us feel better. He invited us to his house and taught us how to distill the essential oils from herbs in the traditional Moroccan fashion, and then gave us bottles of distilled spearmint, which is good for colds. He also gave me a bottle of distilled oregano and a bag of dried chamomile because I was still sick, and refused any payment. What a wonderful, wonderful man.
Oregano is good for the digestive tract. I’ve taken several Oregano shots, and they are AWFUL. For a second, it tastes like pizza, and then you wonder why you ever thought it would be a good idea to take a shot of distilled Oregano, while you search desperately for a glass of water or something to wash it down. You think 151 is bad? You think chachi is bad? Try distilled Oregano. SRSLY GUYZ.
And you know, it’s entirely possible that Said is an Elf, and that ‘Chaouen is actually Rivendell. I mean, it looks like this there:
And, you know, like this. Or whatever.
Yeah. Chefchaouen is magical. If I ever return to Morocco, I’m going straight back to Chaouen. It’s by far my favorite place here.
I loved it even through my daze/days (PUN PUN PUN) of illness and pain, which I’m going to a doctor for this week, hopefully. I passed out with yet another fever on Friday night in my parents’ riad and cramps up the flooploppy, and so I’m officially going to stop popping ineffective medication and see about some antibiotics or something.
One more ‘Chouen story, and then I’m going to bed.
I returned to our group’s riad late on Saturday night, after hanging out with the fambam till late evening. I heard raucous laughter and traditional music wafting from the roof like secondhand smoke, and so headed up three or four floors to find most of our cohort laughing, gathered around the hookah that someone bought a little while ago (just tobacco, or we’d have been eaten by the Very Strict CIEE Drug Policy), as Rachel and Angela danced to the traditional music supplied by two ancient Moroccan men wearing enormous sunglasses and bright clothes, both blazed out of their pants. One of the men, the one with the drum, had the most ridiculous and contagious laugh I’ve ever heard; every time he laughed, we’d laugh, which in turn made him laugh, which in turn made us laugh, which made him laugh harder, which made us laugh harder. It was a vicious cycle of laughter that left us breathless and teary-eyed as we watched him try to pronounce Rachel’s name. “Tee-chl?” he asked, and laughed. We collapsed into laughter again. He laughed more. We laughed more. He laughed. We laughed. He laughed. We laughed. It was a great, great night.
Chefchaouen, AKA Rivendell, AKA Fern Gully, rules. Let’s go there if you ever come to Morocco! Yes, I mean You, Gentle Reader!
Waterfall, Toubkal, family, lala I have MOARSIES STOARSIES for you, soonsies, soonsies. For now, bedtime! Yay!