When we just stepped off the bus into a windy weather of Essaouira, it immediately felt that we are next to the Atlantic ocean. Viktorija as always showed some good smell of orientation and found a cheap hostel on the first random turn as soon as we hitted Medina. I love off season. Our hostel was empty with only three Workawayers hanging around. We took a dormitory room, but nobody came in those two days, so we stayed alone. The price was quite decent – 5 € per person.
The Medina of Essaouira reminded Marrakech: food stalls, a lot of shops with various goods, many people and smalls streets. But somehow I didn’t feel it was the same as it had some different vibes. Maybe, because of all the cookies, pies and bagels you can find on every corner. And they are extremely cheap: I paid 1,1 € for 6 croissants.
The harbour is surrounded by small fishing boats, most of them coloured in blue. The fishermen are cleaning and selling their catch on the shore. One of the highlights of Essaouira is a walk on the ramparts, next to the raging Atlantic Ocean. There are two bastions that offer a great view to the city.
I was always sceptical about trying new food. I guess there is a conservative Lithuanian living inside of me with a narrow view of ancient hunter that excludes everything but meat from his diet. For 10 € we got a big plate of sea food and it was one of the best meals I had in Morocco. Looks like I‘m not that conservative as I thought.
As we were planning to head North, we went to a buy station to ask for the schedule. A man in djellaba (a traditional dress for men) was running around the station and selling tickets. The ticket we bought was basiccaly a piece of paper with some inscription on it. It didn‘t seem very reliable, but what can you do.
Next evening, we came to the bus station and the guy immediately recognized us and showed our bus. It was a long 16 hours journey as the bus was stopping in every city. Sometimes we weren‘t moving for an hour or more. That was quite annoying. Finally, we reached one big city about 50 km from Chefchaouen and they said that’s it. „We need to go to Chefchaouen“, – I demanded. The driver and conductor were saying something in French, but I didn‘t understand anything. After some waiting, they took us to a shared taxi, paid for it and we reached our destination 4 hours late.
Chefchaouen is all coloured in blue: houses, stairs, narrow streets and walls. The city is situated on the slopes of the Rif Mountains, so you are always walking up and down. Some of the streets are crowded with shops and that means more attention to us. All those „Hello, my friend, come to my shop“ – can be quite annoying. Especially, when you hear it dozens of times during the day. And everybody in Chefchaouen is selling hashish. Random guys are offering it on every corner. Even the shop keepers, when inviting you to have a look at their place, always add that they have something to smoke. Well, a few years ago, I would be probably wandering around all stoned, but those times has gone. I had some frustrating moments as some of the dealers were following me, asking to buy their stuff and trying all over again, when I was refusing. They don‘t accept your „No“ – you have to be patient. One might think that Chefchaouen is annoying place, but actually I loved it from the very first day. All that attention is just a price you have to pay in the developing countries. That‘s how it is.
Next day, we took a shared taxi in order to go to Cascades d‘Akchour. We hiked few hours to the cascade through the forest and mountains and got back to Chefchaouen in the evening. On the way back, local muslim girls were loudly singing with the radio in the bus. Funny though as most of the times they seem so calm.
A day has come to take some time on my own and I headed to the Rif mountains. The scenery was amazing: Chefchaoeun with all its blueness was in front of my eyes. I climbed higher to the mountains and took a path that seemed nobody was using. Finally, I reached one big rock, climbed to the top and sat alone for an hour surrounded by those huge, silent giants.
And the time has come to leave. As we had a flight from Marrakech, we spent one last night there. We had some troubles finding a place to stay. After some wandering around Medina, we checked in some hostel with obviously stoned young guy as a manager. The last supper in the main square was one of the most expensive and the worst we had. Not the best farewell from Morocco.
It was hard to digest an idea that now is the time to go back to cold and grey Lithuania. Life is a bitch. Morocco was definitely a great closing chord of my travels that started in 2014. New peaks and challenges are waiting at home and it’s very exciting as well. „The slower you live, the faster you die.” Hopefully, that’s not my case.
Text – Karolis Bareckas, photos – Viktorija Samarinaitė.