Now its very easy to slag-off touts and yes, they are mostly annoying. However, there are times when they can be useful and one such occasion was when I arrived on a bus from Tangiers into the mountain town of Chefchaouen at 11.30pm with no accommodation booked. I said I was staying at a place mentioned in the ‘Lonely Planet’ guidebook and he did the usual and said what a nice place it was and started walking with me and chatting and before I knew it he was taking me there which in all fairness I would never have found as its a 20 minute uphill twisty walk before the maze of the old medina.
Given the time of my arrival, we finally found a place at about the fifth time of asking which was very cheap but a bit of a sh*thole. I paid the tout off with 10 MAD which is less than a pound, went to bed and checked out early the following morning and walked around the beautiful medina which is awash with blinding blue-white houses and buildings and was almost desserted as little did I know that the town didn’t get moving till about 10am!
I found a new hostel in the medina and checked in as the staff were friendly and it looked a better place to stay even though it was a pound more and sleeping in a dorm rather than having a private room. Not everything in life is black and white!
Whilst checking-in I met an English guy called Andrew who I sat with outside a cafe drinking a cup of mint tea and eating our breakfast. I told him I planned to climb the mountain and he was up for that so we set off and soon met another couple on the way. The four of us climbed Jebel El-kelaa (1616m) in the Rif Mountains on a pleasant day of sunshine with a fresh breeze. It was a fairly easy climb though we did go off course along the way somewhere which subsequently meant we were almost rock climbing at one stage.
Overall, we spent about five or six hours on the trail where the scenery was at times like that in the Brad Pitt movie ‘Babel‘ (filmed elsewhere in Morocco) and only interrupted by a few guys trying to sell us kif (the arabic name for marijuana which is grown in the area) and some locals who shouted at us everytime we took a photo. Fair enough, if you point a camera at someones face but when you’re just taking a photo of scenery its just annoying. We obviously ignored what was basically just a cheap attempt to get some money off us.
After decending Andrew and I went up the hill on the other side of the town to see sunset and we basically walked around the town in the evening to kill time where I sampled a cheap bowl of snails (which were actually very tasty) from a street vendor as well as tajinewhich is a Moroccan stew and meat dish.
Click here to read the next chapter on this journey – Spain Pt I: Seville