A visit to Morocco isn’t complete without visiting the blue city of Chefchauoen. Chauoen as the locals call it is located in the north of Morocco and it is situated in the Riff Mountains. Legend has it that it used to be white, but during the summer months nobody could see because of the glare, so they painted it blue and every year since then the women of the city maintain its apperance. Visiting Chauoen was like going on vacation, nobody in the streets bothered you, nobody hassled you and you were free to take pictures of whatever you want. As touristy as it is, it’s an anomaly, the black sheep of Morocco where the shop keepers have somehow made a pact to not bother tourists. The few to break this promise are the drug dealers scattered throughout the city, hiding in dark alleyways. It’s as if their perceived notion of where a drug dealer should be found and how they’re suppose to act comes from those they’ve seen in films. I wouldn’t be surprised if they use them as their training manual.
Aside from the occasional drug dealer asking you if you want something, Chauoen is a beautifully relaxing city. It is also where I had my first hammam experience. A hammam is like a Turkish bath where Moroccans ritually go to cleanse themselves about once a week. There are the touristy hammams and the traditional ones. With Kevin and Ryan (I mentioned they were with my until the end) we went traditional. Before you go, you need to make sure you bring the essential items which include a swimsuit or an extra pair of underwear, a hammam glove (used to scrap away the dead skin), and soap, once you have all those you are ready to go. The one we went to consisted of three different steam rooms of varying temperatures. The first step is to make your way to the hottest, sit or lay on the floor while you poor hot water over your body. Once you have sufficiently opened your pores, you use your hammam glove to scrape off the dead skin, you need to ask your friends or if your alone, an old Moroccan guy to help you get your back. After you have successfully removed the dead skin (it should feel like you’re missing your epidermis), you make your way to a cooler room where you apply soap and let it sit for a few minutes. Once a few minutes pass you dump buckets of water on yourself to wash it off. After that you’re pretty much finished, you can lounge around and relax for however long you can stand the heat, or for a couple extra euros you can have a “massage” by the attendant (these are known to be vigorously rough) or you can leave. By the end you’ll feel like a newborn baby and if there wasn’t a breeze before you went in there will be one after. Aside from purging the dead skin from your body it’s a great way to relax and to disconnect.
Not far from Chauoen is the town of Akchour where you can do a two hour hike through a beautiful green landscape you wouldn’t know existed in Morocco to a 100m waterfall.