I am writing you from Chefchaouen Morocco. All the keys are reorganized on this computer so bear with me as it is very difficult to type. I am not looking at the screen just down at the keyboard. We arrived in Africa yesterday passing by the Rock of Gibraltar. Immediately as anticipated we were hounded by faux guides marketing to us with fear – telling us it was unsafe to travel in the afternoon because Moroccans become more dangerous in the afternoon for some strange reason and other idiotic lies and buggery. We tried to ignore them for the most part – ignoring their lies that there is no bus service to Chefchaouen. We ended up at the bus station and caught a bus to Chef within 10 minutes.
It was a very different experience being the only farang in a bus completely full of Arabs & Berbers – listening to the music as we bounced along the rutted semi-paved roads.
We drove into the Riff Mountains past fields and fields of fava beans all blooming white. We could smell their fragrant blossoms as we passed by. We are staying at a beautiful pension – all colorful tiles inside the interior courtyard – simple but effective and elegant. It is quite cold here and none of the buildings are heated. I am glad I brought my fleece and there are also many many thick blankets for use.
All restaurants serve food outside – the homes are not heated. To give you an idea of how cold it is, you can see my breath indoors at all hours of the day.
We just spent 4 hours in the home of Abdul – we met his lovely wife and his 3 sons and 1 daughter. I am so glad to have met this charming and interesting man. He has traveled throughout Europe and other countries – and he will be visiting Carmel, CA this July. He is an artist. We talked and talked some more 1111 (frustration over keyboard there).
He says Moroccans speak many languages – Moroccans learn languages like speaking with their mouths full of a sandwich!!! Abdul gave us lunch and entertained us with many stories He showed us a picture of he and Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson came through Chefchaouen several years ago and Abdul was his guide. We will go with Abdul to Fes tomorrow because he is going to be stocking up on silver and other crafts for his store in anticipation of Espana Semana the famous Spanish holiday before Easter. Chefchaouen according to Abdul is not the Real Morocco — Fes is the real Morocco and because we can stay with he and his cousin at his cousins house we will see parts of Fes that most tourists never see111111 (excl points) .
We will return to his house tonight for dinner: Abdul is Bedouin – he was nomadic and grew up in tents in Western Sahara but moved to Chefchaouen 20 years ago and married his wife. Very interesting to see the differences in pictures between he and his siblings and of his children – some look very white while others look extremely dark and Indian. When back-packing through Europe Abdul was mistook for a Mexican person by people!! I have a great video of he and Toni rocking out to rap music!!
Most Moroccans are sadistically upset with Bush; so we try not to discuss this; but it really cannot be avoided. We have had several people tell us America sucks – we talked to some students last night and exchanged email addresses with them. They showed us a sheet of color logos listing American companies to boycott. Abdul also had this list in his house. Unfortunately with the students – their hatred towards the American government was exacerbated by the fact that several were clearly high on hashish, which by the way is everywhere in this town. Marijuana here is like cigarettes in Europe: Some of the students made it very clear their hatred is targeted towards the American government and not travelers – one of them clearly admired the fact that we did come to his country.
This is a town built for tourism – now there are very few tourists here and restaurants and hotels are fairly deserted. We are spending 30 Dirhams each per night – that is a little less than 3 US dollars.
Chefchaouen rocks hard – drugs of course but we get off on the beautiful Spanish Greek style white washed blue buildings and incredible tile work and narrow alley ways with unique shops and markets. Spanish food sucks – at least from Madrid south. Arabic Moroccan food rocks!! Its spices are unique and very delicious! We’ve had good fortune to eat home cooked Moroccan food every night!! Abdul told us many Europeans come here for the women – they marry and return to Europe. Abdul has 8 siblings – 1 lives in Japan with his Japanese wife; another lives in Germany with a German wife and the others are scattered around Morocco.
We watched a recording of his sister’s marriage – for 3 hours! By the time we finished we knew every nuance of a Moroccan wedding as well as the names of Abdul’s extended family! Abdul also put in a tape for us to listen – it was Cammy Blackstone of KFRC 99.7 FM radio in SF California!!! One of his friends in CA sent him this from November of 2002 so we listed to bad traffic conditions in Sonoma and Marin county followed by Neil Diamonds LA’s Fine – and more oldies. Then we listened to EZ-E do some expletive laced rap music. Abdul gets 1500 different TV stations from around the world!
We left Spain when war protests were in full swing. At the metro stops young people were banging trashcans and bottles on the metal gates and as we walked down the streets we heard constant noise reverberating from the side streets.
This has been a great trip so far and is only getting better. I am so glad we have taken this opportunity to visit Morocco. Last night was the first full sleep I’ve had since we have been here111111111111 (excl points11) – very slow connection here so may not read your emails now :(((
I hope all is well on the home front.