Kif it up in Chefchaouen
Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
31Trip End Ongoing
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It is estimated that half of all cannabis consumed in Europe comes from Morocco and specifically from them there Rif Mountains. This is possible because, King Hassan II gave special permission for the region to legally grow and sell cannabis and its' various products until they find another product that can be successfully cultivated in the harsh terrain. According to statistics there is a bout 120,000 hectors of the stuff, of which either kif or hashish is produced
So it's probably not surprising to learn that Chefchaouen is a very laid back place full of Spanish speaking hippies, dressed in tie dye, like a cast from the Broadway musical 'Hair'. Having grown only a few whiskers, I could only sideline it and watch on as funkadelic waves of baba coolness washed across the main square.
Because of the closeness of the Spanish border, the French language has be relegated to third place after Arab and Spanish, so I had to dive into my limited Spanish when talking with street urchins and hotel owners. And I did meet a lot of hotel owners each of them seem to repeat "No Vacancy" even before I open my mouth. I don't know how many hotels I tried but things were looking glum, unaware of it at the time but, along with the king comes all the kings' men which comprises of 1500 security personal, each requiring a hotel room.
However I did come across Muhammad who red eyed managed to prop himself up on one elbow when I entered and suggested I sleep on his terrace
Although young, them danes spoke English very well and were incredibly mature so I had a good chin wag with em and later that evening I found myself in a long narrow room above a restaurant lined with school benches cheering on a Barcelona vers Munich game of soccer. A window or two open wouldn't have gone a miss, because with all the smoking going on I was getting quite faint. Still you got to hand it to them Moroccans they love their soccer.
Back at the hotel I managed to get to know a few of the kings men who were staying in rooms close by, each of whom spoke excellent French and some of whom had lived in the same suburbs as I in Paris. It was excellent having these guys to answer questions about the Muslim religion, their traditions and culture.
The next day I decided to go for a walk and started climbing the mountains behind Chefchaouen. Just following goat trails, I found an even higher valley with a narrow gravel road running up the middle
Further up the hill I passed plenty of harvested cannabis crops and herds of goats until I got to the top and decided to get back down before sunset.
The rest of my time at Chefchaouen was spent either in cafes or lying in the sun on the terrace. Would definitely recommend this place to anyone, not necessarily because of the legalisation of cannabis but of the easy going, gentle relaxing environment.
However I can't stay here for ever and must check out the rest of morocco before heading south. The next three days will be taken up by travelling in hot and sweaty buses from Chefchaouen to Meknes and back to Casablanca where I need to organise my Mauritanian visa and see a good friend from Paris. Sylvie N (who is in town for a cure with her mum) meet me at her hotel reception where we stayed and I drank for the first time in a while a couple of beers and we exchanged stories and laughed again at a few older ones. The next day I travelled to Beni Mellal for a night and then it was on to the next port of call Marrakesh