Chefchaouen is definitely one of Morocco’s most beautiful cities. Known as Chaouen by its people, the city is located in the Rif Mountains in northwest Morocco. Along with its spectacular location and its blue painted walls, doors, and floors, its people made this city most charming.
Moroccans are very hospitable. Most seem like very warm and welcoming people, although you will find exceptions. Even strangers in the streets will sometimes seem like they’re family. Being such the small town that it is, everyone in Chefchaouen appeared friendly with one another, and I felt the most comfortable walking around here than I have in any other city of Morocco. At first, my friend and I were a little lost trying to find the hostel. I decided to ask for directions from a girl wearing a school uniform (an indication that she is definitely not a tourist). She just pointed in the right direction for me. I thanked her and carried on, but when it came time to decide the next turn, before I could even get discouraged, I heard a little voice behind me telling me “it’s this way”. This young pupil and her friend were following us, and would (graciously) guide us down each street until we had reached our destination.
Being offered mint tea is a very common way of welcoming strangers to Morocco, …and we were given free atay twice! Once by a man who worked in a wool factory/carpet store pictured below. Of course, this guy wanted us to buy one of his rugs; I won’t deny it. But his kind offer of tea and his repeated phrases such as, “even if you don’t take, we will still be smiles!”, combined with stories and a show-and-tell of all of his rugs, made me feel very welcomed to Chefchaouen! (Truth: We bought two rugs. Because… they were really gorgeous and everyone at the shop were wonderful people who deserve the profit gained.)
Our second welcoming tea moment was from a very nice young guy, uniquely named Mohammed, who we had been running into several times throughout the two days. We first met him at his restaurant. He told us a little about the city, and a friend of his even gave us free samples from his pastry food stand. Later this Mohammed would answer all of our questions (and help us find the best henna lady in town, who would ultimately meet us right at his restaurant and do our henna at the very table where we had dinner the night before.) We were soon invited to drink tea at his good friend’s hostel, and before we knew it, we were spending the night with Chefchaouen locals on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city, complete with a free acoustic concert by two of the guys, and even the chance to play guitar and sing with them. It was the best experience that I couldn’t have even dreamed up. Late, after all of the girls left the gathering, instead of staying to hang out with the guys, one guy, Mohammed Ali, kindly walked us two random tourists all the way back to our hostel door to ensure our safety. No flirtatious gestures. No asking for digits, and I at least expected that.
Just a genuine act of kindness.
Something I hope to bring back to my lifestyle in America is indeed the way Moroccans are so warm to one another. I plan to treat strangers with a little more hospitality because it does affect how a person perceives the place where they are. And, not to get all gooey, but… we all want to make this world a nicer place, don’t we? Though I should probably buy some tea first.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello, everyone! I am Meghan Johns, a 20-year-old student who comes from the small, but lovely Carthage College in Wisconsin. I study studio art, art history, and the French language there, but I am really excited to begin learning Arabic in Morocco. In my free time, I draw and write music. Traveling is always a must on my to-do list. I cannot wait to see what Rabat has to offer. You can guess how excited I am to start my adventures there this next semester, but the only thing I'll love more than having them is sharing them, with you.</span></p>