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Morocco: Casablanca, Chefchaouen, Rabat, Volubilis
Chefchaouen, Morocco: The blue wonder
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
It was a 3-hour drive from Rabat to Chefchaouen. Just on the outskirts of the town, we made a brief stop to view the beautiful countryside and the mountain tops.
Chefchaouen, or Chaouen as the localsí call, is a city in the Rif Mountains of northwest Morocco. Itís known for the striking, blue-washed buildings of its old town. Leather and weaving workshops line its steep cobbled lanes.
The earlier plan was to explore 'Morocco's Blue Pearl' the same evening but because of our stop at Rabat, it was best to leave the exploration for the next morning. For the night we were booked at Hotel Parador. Unfortunately, the bus needs to be parked in a parking lot from where it was quite an uphill walk to reach our hotel. Our luggage was sent ahead in a smaller vehicle. We reached 30 minutes later.
Dinner that evening was in a local street-side cafe; there were many such. Salads and juices helped the vegetarians and some local cuts fulfilled the meat eaters.
Since the town is located amidst mountains, rain is quite common. Sadly, it was raining when we woke up next morning. We were disheartened since we were to walk a couple of hours in the lanes of the 'blue town'. Having no other option, we ventured out... some with umbrellas that were readily available and some without. For photographers the rain and the overcast sky was a boon. As you will see in the pictures, the wetness offered nicely saturated colours.
Chefchaouen's blue walls are a popular subject of interest. There are several theories as to why the walls were painted blue. One popular theory is that the blue keeps mosquitos away, another is that Jews introduced the blue when they took refuge from Hitler in the 1930s. The blue is said to symbolize the sky and heaven and serve as a reminder to lead a spiritual life. Some just said it represents the colour of the sea. However, according to some locals, the walls were mandated to be painted blue simply to attract tourists at some point in the 1970s.
The main square in the medina is lined with cafes and filled to the brim with locals and tourist mingling easily. Another reason why backpackers love Chefchaouen is the easy availability of drugs. Tourism in Chaouen is driven by its reputation as centre of the marijuana plantations region in north Morocco. We were expressly warned to keep away from the peddlers. Thankfully, we did.
It was now time to leave for our next destination - Fes. With a stop at Volubilis.
Chefchaouen Image Gallery Photo viewer
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