Shish? Shish?

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Friday, September 29, 2006

The King of Morocco smokes hashish. He must. Why else would he be in Chefchaouen. Chefchaouen is the hasish capital of Morocco, if not the world. Set amongst the picturesque Rif mountains, Chefchaouen is an amazingly laid back place, the opposite pole to the general choas of Morocco - a destination perfect for trekking and relaxing as well as Crown retreats. On my day in Chefchaouen, the King was also there - I speculate that he would ahve been more than relaxed in his residence high in the Rif Mountains.

Climbing dramatically above Chefchaouen, the Rif Mountains are home to field of illegal plants, inconceivably simply located so that the average man can walk amongst them. And although it is, indeed, what a lot of people go to Chefchaouen for, the overwhelming presence of drugs is somewhat of a blight on the city and your general experience as you fight off street dealer after street dealer, constantly having to refuse their offers in more and more amusing ways. One used more than once was: "Sorry mate - I'm a professional footballer so I can't smoke. You know Hide Nakata? (Yes) I used to play with him back in Japan before he went to Europe".

Beyond its reputation as land of hash, Chefchaouen is wonderful. It is, quite easily, the most beautiful city I've visited in Morocco, due aprtly to its own quality and partly to the lack of any real competition. In fact, Chefchaouen feels like a combination of places from my past. The open smooth stone paths leading up the mountain and the pavillions overlooking the streams flowing down from the mountains are China - no doubt. A pure copy. The design of the city, especially the steeply rising alleys and houses awah with water-colouresque blue and white cannot help but resemble some of the finer parts of Greece.

A day in Chefchaouen was not enough. After a couple of weeks constantly under siege from Moroccan touts and 'guides', Chefchaouen is the kind of place that I could have relaxed in for the better part of a week, filling each day with sunsets from the mosque high above the town, wonderful avocado, goat's cheese and tomato sandwiches, ludo in the cafes, football in the street, scenic treks in the both green and rugged mountains. Big fan of Chefchaouen - big fan.

Casa? Not so much of a fan. But, despite the poor impressions left by Casa two weeks ago, I returned. Flights make you return to places. Now, Morocco has its fair share of crazy people, but a short stroll around the centre of Casa quickly affirmed that Casa was King of crazies. In one evening, merely strolling around the city centre, we were accosted by many a madman, much to our amusement. In short, I have arranged for commercial export of the finest Korean chairs (being a carpenter) to Morocco; been lectured by a customs official about Islam; had an old dude tell us all about hawks; convinced a dude wearing a snake skin Dolce and Gabbana jacket that the 2nd language of Australia was "Skipra"; and turned the tables ona guy trying to sell us hash so much that he ended up trying to get away from us, making excuses for his exit. Ah - crazies in Casa. Casa is a whole...

So, to the Top 5. In 2 weeks in Morocco, IO've noticed chaos. Quite a bit of it. the strategies and the infrastructure are all generally of a poor standard and the lack of any kind of proper planning is evident in so many things. The bus journey from Chefchaouen to Casa was a perfect example - perhaps the epitome of all things disorganised, inefficient, random, choatic, just ridiculous. Here at the Top 5 things from hat bus trip:

5. A fight breaks out between the ticket collector and randomn touts that sell ticket for the buses. Insterad of having an official ticket seller, random dudes sell tickets for commission. These arguments seem common.

4. At a police checkpoint, the 10 people standing on the bus are told to duck down so as not to be seen. One of them is a lady carrying a baby on her back.

3. There are 10 people standing on a bus - one woman refuses to elt anyone sit next to her.

2. Two guys stand on the side of the street with their bags 50 metres from the actual bus stop. Having already stopped for 15 minutes at the station, the bus stops for these passengers and loads their bags. Common occurrence to stop at a single passenger's whim. It takes us more than an hour to get out of Rabat.

1. Stuck in Ouzzane station fro more than 1/2 an hour because no one wants to get on the bus once and for all. Passengers keep getting one and off, umming and arrring. The only way the bus gets people on is by starting to drive off.

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kiemce on

Just get on the friggin' bus!
I can relate to some of your bus woes... So far, the average lateness of intercity buses in Venezuela is about 2hrs - mostly attributed to fat bastard bus drivers stopping every couple of hours for a snack while the actual passengers wait on the bus! Outrageous.

Most classic moment would have to be 'Carlos' receiving an ovation when he returned to the bus after keeping us waiting an hour as he backed one out...

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