Even as our finals exams loomed, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to continue to explore Morocco. The weekend before finals, the program took all of us on a trip to Chefchaouen and Tangier in the north of Morocco. We left from Rabat early Wednesday morning and arrived in Chefchaouen in the early afternoon. Chefchaouen is also known as “Bleuville,” because the town is entirely blue! It was founded in the early 15th century as Muslims and Jews alike fled Spain. The early settlers of Chefchaouen believed that the color blue warded off evil spirits, hence why the town is painted with every shade of blue you can imagine. It is absolutely gorgeous. We took our tour in the early evening when it was cool out, and we wandered by the river that flows through the town. People use the river as a swimming hole and as a place to wash clothing. As we observed, a group of young boys were splashing around on top of two rugs that were on the bottom of the river being washed! We also got a view of the Rif Mountains and learned about the famous war in the Rif. Bit of history: France gave northern Morocco to Spain. However, the people of the Rif Mountains wanted independence and fiercely fought against both the French and Spanish troops at the time of the Spanish protectorate. However, the Rif people wanted to be there own country, so the war is not really discussed openly in Morocco today. I had never heard of the war before and I enjoyed getting more insight into the history and politics of Morocco.
The next day, we headed to Tangier. Tangier is a very international city, as it is located on the Strait of Gibraltar, directly across from Spain. The American Litigation is in Tangier, since Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States after its independence from Britain. Tangier is also home to many different houses of worship, including St. Andrew’s Church, which holds Christian ceremonies in multiple languages. Because of Ramadan, most of the historical sites like the American Litigation were closed. I wish that we had had more time in Tangier, since we barely got to enjoy everything the city had to offer. However, due to proximity, we decided to head to Spain! We took a ferry from Tangier to Tarifa, which took about 45 minutes. After landing in Tarifa, we took a bus to Cadiz, a small beach town on the Atlantic. We crashed at a hostel for the evening and enjoyed tapas. The next day, we headed to Seville. Seville is beautiful. There were so many gorgeous cathedrals! We took some time to explore the Fine Arts Museum in Seville and visit the Place de Espana, which was very fun. The Place de Espana has a moat around it, and we rented rowboats and enjoyed the plaza up close. We had more tapas in the evening and enjoyed relaxing (and dressing less modestly!) In the morning, we visited Real Alca?? Before heading back to Cadiz. In Cadiz, we spent the day relaxing on the beach and eating paella and churros con chocolat.
The next day, we headed back to Tarifa to catch the ferry home. Once back in Tangier, we experienced some aggressive grand taxi drivers. We practically had to fight them off in order to get to the petit taxis. That definitely made me appreciate Rabat and its less touristy environment. I think that being in Rabat allowed me to integrate better into local culture, which I’m not sure I would have been able to do if I were studying somewhere more touristy like Fes or Tangier. Overall, it was a very relaxing way to spend the weekend before exams!
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<p>Chloe Zagrodzky is a rising junior at Claremont McKenna College majoring in Government and Leadership. When not reading the Federalist Papers for the 100th time, she can be found practicing her French skills, running or preparing to compete with her Mock Trial team. Her list of favorite things includes dogs of all shapes and sizes, reasonably priced mochas and creative Instagram captions.</p>