Trip Start May 05, 2008
97Trip End May 09, 2009
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Anyway; we had read in the guide that the bus station is right next to the Tangier port entrance, so after getting off the ferry, we ignored the dozens of men wanting to show us around town; sell us something or offer a taxi service and we walked as boldly as we could muster the strength to show; with our heavy backpacks and daypacks, through the merciless African sun
We got off at Chefchaouen from a decrepit bus which hadn't been serviced since the 80s, and were immediately greeted upon arrival by a small fellow named Karim, who showed us the way to our hotel in exchange for us visiting a cooperative which sold various local products. He waited for us outside the entrance to the hotel when we went out to get some dinner and insisted we visit the cooperative shop. Since Virginia wanted a couple of shirts, we agreed and followed him there. The cooperative turned out to be a carpet shop run by a Berber family; before we knew it we had been provided with mint tea, one guy telling us corny American jokes, while the others were rolling carpets in front of us, in between passing among themselves cigarettes laced with hasheesh (the main cash crop of the region). Needless to say we were quite uneasy and on our guard; but after Virginia negotiated for some shirts, they were very nice to us and invited us for dinner along with some Americans. Gaining confidence from strength in numbers; we accepted and we were treated to a traditional Berber meal in the shop which also doubled as their house. They even went through the trouble of making Virginia a vegetable tagine and spent most of the night telling us about life in Morocco. Thus, though we got the 'tourist price' for the shirts, even after negotiation, we still felt that it was worth the experience.
Chefchaouen is a town that could have a lot of potential, because the scenery is breathtaking and the town quite charming; that positive is negated somewhat by our status as walking wallets. Unless we walk briskly and with a purpose, we get stopped every 10 meters by people wanting to take us to their shop; sell us hasheesh or simply begging for money. We thus learned in a hurry to say 'la shukran' (no thank you); we don't feel unsafe though because there are quite a few cops around and Moroccan men look very small compared to Tavi. We are using this opportunity to get our 'Morocco legs', before heading off tomorrow to the chaotic but fabled city of Fez. We are still mourning but we feel that some of the strength from Virginia's grandmother has passed through to Virginia, who has been very good at hauling the backpack without a whimper of complaint, all the while deflecting the Moroccan touts.
As the computers here in Chaouen are quite antiquated; we will upload some pictures later.