The blue pearl, Chefchouen

Getting to Chefchouen was decently easy enough, though getting all my luggage to the bus proved to be a challenging start to the day. I hired a portman to come down to the riad and wheelbarrow my backpacks and suitcase up the long hill to the bus station. We had agreed upon a price, and in typical Moroccan fashion, at the end, he tried to guilt trip me into even more money. I stood my ground and paid him our price, and sat at the cafe waiting for the bus to arrive. Luckily, I started to see other foreigners show up, who had amazingly remained hidden during my time in Fez, because I rarely ever saw any foreigners and wondered where they all were.

While we waited, there was a small group of 3 Japanese that I noticed, who soon became my friends on the bus ride to Chefchouen. The group of foreigners soon started chatting it up, and at the bus stop, we all ate together and shared stories along with our grilled minced meat from the vendor outside. It was good, scary, but good :).

When we arrived in Chefchouen, I waited in line for my bus tickets and met Thom, a guy from the UK. We chatted for a while and ended up sharing a taxi and spending all our time together in Chefchouen with engaging conversation, exploring the town, and a hike the next morning. We had dinner in the main square and watched the lively hustle and bustle of tourists, dwellers, and the townspeople. We wandered throughout all the streets making our way through this little village and ended up along side a river where we sat and drank under a full moon. It was a great day!

The hike up to the Spanish monastery was ridiculously hot, and people warned us about making the hike up, but it wasn’t so bad. It was definitely hot, and we had our water, but found ourselves at the top talking to a countryman and his mother who was tending to the goats sitting on the hillside. She didn’t want her picture taken, but was just sitting there looking out and I wondered what kind of life she had had so far. The man was nice, and offered to show us around, not in any pushy fashion, and Thom and I thought it was the perfect way to solicit business–gently and kindly, and if we’d had more time, we would have gone.

We then went to lunch and had a great pizza at a posh little pizza joint. We kind of bullied our way into making them open early so I could still get the bus to Tangier that afternoon, and while we ate, Thom decided to join. He said, well what’s the use of traveling alone if you have no spontaneity in it? So he rushed out to get his stuff packed and we set to meet up at the bus station for the bus in just about 45 minutes.

I headed back to get my things and start heading to the bus station, but the taxi that was organized for me was taking a long time, so I started to get a little impatient and brought my stuff out to make the point of me getting going. I wanted to be at the bus station by 2:45 for my 3:15, and by 3:00, they still hadn’t shown. Finally, I got a cab and raced down to the bus station, keeping an eye out to see if I could pick Thom up on the way.

I got to the station, and started waiting in line to see if I could secure a ticket for Thom, but the 2 guys in front of me took the last two tickets on the bus. All of a sudden, Thom arrived, sweaty, out of breath, and with his huge backpack on his back and I was shocked that he made the effort to join. I was even more eager to ensure he got on the bus with me. After going back and forth with the ticket person, he said there’s no more tickets at all, absolutely nothing he can do, so we got his ticket for 8pm, which I was thinking was going to be very hard to coordinate since we only have contact in Wifi zones.

The bus pulled up, and I told him that I would do everything to get him on the bus, and to not leave. I went ahead and secured my baggage underneath, and went inside the bus to scope out the actual situation of seats being available. Amazingly, every seat was filled up…except for the one next to me. So while speaking Spanish, I pushed and forced and begged and pleaded our case for allowing Thom on board, and even after the bus started, stopped, and started back again, they stopped and let Thom on board after running him back to the office to pay for a ticket. It was such a rush, feeling amazingly accomplished for having gotten him on board.

We rode the 3 hours to Tangier, and arrived in the evening and got a taxi to the medina where the riad was for the night. Walking to the riad wasn’t the greatest looking pathway, as people, men, were just hanging around trying to get business from you one way or another. Hey you want a tour? Want a good restaurant? Blah blah blah.


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