Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 10 January 2014 • Abroad
“What? No one offered you weed? At all?”
“Nope!” I answered Nia, who was surprised and unusually louder than me. I guess she was really flabbergasted.
“Were you dressed too conventionally? Were you like tourists? You didn’t use a veil or anything, did you?”
“Nope. Yep. And Nope. I guess we just looked underage or too happy. Maybe the people of Chef probably thought we were already high.”
The later is my best bet. Why would you offer weed to people that giggled and smiled all through the alleys of the blue city Chefchaouen, Morocco? Of course, being high usually makes one in the state of semi vegetable and hardly vamped enough to roam around. Nonetheless, I don’t really have any other explanation of us being free from ganja offers in one of the city that is most known for it.
Chefchaoen is the blue city located up north of Morocco, about 3 hours from Tangier. It was one of our main destinations on our Morocco-Eurotrip as Windy begged and pleaded, threatening to slit her wrist if we didn’t go. OK, that was exaggerated, but still, it was Windy’s die-hard dream to visit; and for good reason. This city screams Smurf! LOL!
On a more serious note, we visited Chefchaouen because of its history. Specifically, this city used to be the town for Jewish and Moorish refugees from the Spanish Reconquista. It now has both religions, Muslims and Jewish. It’s interesting to see such city in a country that seems strongly dominated by Muslims. It was no less, very peaceful. I’m not sure if there were any issues bubbling behind the serene ambience, but it didn’t show on the faces of the people we passed by.
So what’s with the blue? I had to ask some random local.
“To avoid mosquitoes.”
Say whaaa? Really?!
True enough, the blue wash color was initially purposed to create a cooler ambience and repel bugs during summer. However, rumor has it that the Jewish Berber women eventually were inspired by Safed, a blue city and one of the four holy cities in Israel, and decided to paint everything blue as it is the color of God and heaven. And why not follow these women’s decision? Aside to their cute traditional outfit, you wouldn’t wanna refuse ideas from women that have tattoos on their faces now, would you?
The blue labyrinth is as confusing as any medina in Morocco, but it was the blue walls and blue decorated doors that made this city so adorable as if it was some kind of a movie or cartoon set. Its location compliments the view as it is situated on steep hills to appoint that the city can no longer be build any higher. But unlike the other medina of Morocco, Chefchaouen has a clean reputation of having the nicest people, far from harassments. Aside to the fact that we didn’t experience such traumatic experiences in other cities, I’d have to agree, I felt a lot safer here. The people were more relaxed, they smiled a lot, and they weren’t forcing any purchases, nor throwing random insults as I slightly experienced in Marrakesh. Chef is very kind and, overall, a city so cute it’s worth the visit.
I should add that I purchased a jelaba, a traditional Moroccan attire because my mother, at one time, was obsessed with them. Jelabas in Chefchaouen turns out to be thicker than other cities adjusting to the chilly weather of the city. Women’s jelaba are more colorful compared to men with details down the middle, around the sleeves, and hoodie.
It is accustomed for women to make jelabas. Once they’re bored of them, it is then sold to vendors. So what you see on the streets are mostly second hand jelabas that are still in mint condition. What’s interesting is that it’s handmade. There are no two jelabas that are exactly the same. It’s art, indeed!
There are other commodities.
Windy and Vindhya were right, it was good to have a loose itinerary and not without one entirely. It was easy to spend 3 days getting lost in the blue labyrinth doing nothing but wondering. And just like any labyrinth of pretty houses, we could have been stuck there for a week or two and got lost track of time. Although that could be the ideal way to slow travel, it might not be as good coming out disoriented, not knowing you’ve spent 2 weeks running around in alleys.
Does the fact that Chefchaouen has a weed farm just beyond its hills have anything to do with how easy it is to enjoy this city? I’m not sure. I didn’t see any open hashish nor did I even smell hints of it on the street. But it could just be in the air, as we were very happy to just stroll around this dreamy little city.
Thank you Windy Ariestanty, who insisted we visited this city. You’re the reason we were so happy and high 😀