Day 4: Casablanca – Rabat – Chefchouen
First, I would like to state I am not a professional travel writer. Nor am I professional blogger. In fact, I never considered myself a professional anything, even when I had a professional sounding title many lifetimes ago.
That being said, this journey through Morocco will not follow any specific format. Why? Because this blog is as random as I am.
This morning we left Casablanca to begin the road portion of our trip. In order to see as much of Morocco as we can, we have a few days when we are in the car for large stretches of time. The black Mercedes van is nice, and half the seats face backward.
By default of age, Vivian and I are facing backwards.
My mother gets motion sickness, and I deferred to our other travel companion. Vivian is young, and in general I don’t suffer from motion sickness. Though the mountain road we were on later was going to challenge my tolerance.
After driving the toll road for close to 45 minutes, we detoured to take the coast road to Rabat. A backward perspective gave me a different view of the crashing waves bombarding the sea wall after we passed.
In Rabat, our driver apologized saying we have a scheduled stop to see the kasbah but it is raining. Three of four said meh, who cares about a little water let’s stop. While my mom’s cousin stayed in the van, Vivian, my mom, and I walked the gardens and ventured into the medina a bit beyond the kasbah walls.
A quick side note: my mom and I have different traveling styles. She prefers organized tours where she can feel safe and watched after while exploring all the various countries of the world. And she’s been to most at this point. My travel style is to land in the airport, have reservations for the places we intend to sleep, and figure it out from there.
This Morocco trip is a bit of compromise for both of us. I researched and found an organized private tour company who handled mapping out an itinerary complete with a driver, half board of food, and organized tours in each destination city, and my mom agreed to a small group. Her point regarding Vivian’s age and my mom’s age was valid, and my point about organized tours not liking young children is a fact. This is what we came up with.
After returning to the van just as the rain began to fall in larger drops, we continued on the road. Once again, we began our route on the toll roads, lulling our group into sleepy stupor that ended as we began our ascent into the mountains.
Winding roads, though beautiful and fun to drive, are a challenge to the hardiest of stomachs. Especially when facing backwards.
After several hours, and without any major stomach issues, we arrived in Chefchaouen,
the blue city. Our driver dropped us and our bags, introducing us to the man from Riad Cherifa who would escort us to our beds for the next two nights.
The original part of the city where we are staying is inaccessible by car. Tuktuks bring supplies like propane in and out of the city, while the majority of the residents walk. Built into the mountainside, the blue city took our breath away as we walked for the first time in several hours.
Greeted by aromatic mint tea and biscuits, we made it to our rooms to turn around and eat our first Moroccan meal.
The blue city is comfortable and has an ease about it, though the streets are often crowded with tourists depending on time of day.
The scheduled guided tour tomorrow will be our chance to fully explore the city, learn why the city is blue, and test our endurance for walking.
I’m not worried about myself. My other three travel companions might have a difficult time. Vivian because she is so young, and my mom because she is not at full capacity. Only time will see how we hold up.
Walking back from the restaurant, I experienced my first culture shock. While I will learn I have nothing to worry about within this tiny mountain town, I had my first moments of concern.
Normally Rule #1 between me and Vivian in public is she has to stay within my eyesight. If she can’t see me, I can’t see her and that means she will lose privileges. Other than that, I’m relatively lax about her proximity to me.
Up until this point I’ve seen distinct interest in Vivian from a few women, interest that Vivian shies away from but I can understand the women’s response. In our return to the riad Vivian was leading the party, walking a few feet ahead of us playing tour guide. Along the way there was distinct interest in her from two of the male vendors. I did not respond to the first as a threat because he was introducing her to two children.
The other wanted to show her turtles and pets he has in his shop. I watched with discomfort, stepping in when I felt it was time for us to continue walking.
For the time being Vivian’s new Rule #1 is she is to hold my or her grandmother’s hand when we are walking in public.
Cultural differences are starting to present themselves to my consciousness.