“You can’t win them all” – said Rhys when the screen showed that our flight to Malaga has been cancelled. There wasn’t much to do but queue and hope out tickets will be replaced for another fairly convenient flight. The fog around Balice Airport was thick and white as full fat milk. No plane has left the airport since early morning. Around 2 hours later we rescheduled our departure for Saturday (two days later than planned). Recently too many things have worked out for us too well. Something just had to happen. Something just HAD TO go wrong.
After spending two lovely days in Katowice with Magda, Wojtek and Grzemek (Rhys just couldn’t keep his hands of the poor cat!), eating thai stir fry and watching old school batman cartoons, we were chilled out and hoped the weather will let us fly this time. All went well and at 9.45 we are on a plane. We arrived in Malaga happy that the sun was there to welcome us and take the foggy thoughts away. We took a bus to Algeciras, from where we had to take a ferry all the way to Morocco. To my surprise it wasn’t very expensive and we ended up paying 25 Euro each for 1h 30min journey.
When we arrived in Tangier MED port the Sun was already gone. And the time difference pushed us by two hours. It was getting late. We took a free bus to the city and as soon as we got off we were surrounded by dozens of taxi drivers nearly fighting over who is going to take us. We couldn’t understand most of them and even if they spoke English it was hard to focus on one of them only. Amongst the taxi drivers we could see some other men trying to recommend a place to stay the night. “10 Euro each! 10 Euro each! Nice room. Shower! Come! Come!” A girl we met on a ferry took us in her taxi and dropped us off at the nearest cash machine. And the nearest one meant a few blocks down the main road. We would have struggled finding one, that’s for sure. After withdrawing some Dirhams (still completely confused) we walked to a bus station. Tangier felt dark and unfriendly. I wasn’t sure if it was just me or whether the place really was so unpleasant. There was something sad and scary about these streets and people hanging about. I felt relieved when we realised that we don’t have to pay 700 DH for a grand taxi to get out of here tonight. It turned out there was a bus going to Fes, which stopped in Chefchaouen. The price seemed reasonable and reassuring – 40 DH each plus 5 DH for our backpack. After 2.5 hours, maybe even 3, we got to Chaouen. And to be honest it wasn’t exactly pretty. Middle of the night, sleepy, tired and cold… “Where the hell are we?” – I thought as we were told to get off the bus. Not knowing where we were, where the hotel was and most importantly if it was still open I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the whole situation. We had to take a taxi, which pulled up just behind the bus. After paying 20DH for just 2 min drive we were told to get off and walk for another 2 minutes. There it was – Hotel Balcelona – recomended by Maciek. Got a double room for 150DH with bathroom, in which the shower didn’t work at all and the toilet made strange loud noises when you flushed it. Little did we know it was still the most luxurious hotel we were going to stay at…
For some strange reason, not known to anyone but Rhys, we went for a walk. We quickly realised Chefchaouen at night wasn’t the nicest and friendliest little town. Creepy, dirty and cold would be my description, but what do I know, right?
17.10 (Sunday) – “Djellaba or breakfast?”
We woke up to a completely different town. Sunny, full of people, cats, shops and carpets. Went for a quick stroll and ended up haggling and buying a djellaba not even an hour later! We drank mint tea and listened to the shopkeepers attempts to sell me a carpet. “I will show you. If you don’t want just smile, if you like you like.” – said the friendly man. But I wasn’t going to buy his lovely carpets anyway. 155DH for a djellaba and a picture with the shop owner, who thought me a few words in arabic seemed like a fantastic way to start a day.
After late breakfast and a power nap, we continued exploring. I was truly amazed and intrigued by this “blue town”. We walked little streets of the medina, climbed plenty of stairs, smiled at plenty of people and took plenty of pictures.
I absolutely adore kids in this town. Some of them are really pretty and cute. There is definitely more kids than cats here, even though cats try hard to beat the number of the little ones. Every street you take you can be sure to meet one or the other. As we were allowing ourselves to get more and more lost, we arrived at one square filled with clothes hanging to dry. A group of kids was playing with three purely white cats. I couldn’t resist putting my camera to use and only a few seconds later found myself surrounded by the little ones. One girl said something, which at that point seemed as if she wanted me to take a picture of her. I quickly realised it was her, who wanted to take one! She took the camera off my hands and pointed it towards her friends. Strangely enough I wasn’t very much worried about her playing with my equipment, but I noticed we were watched by not-so-happy grandmother. We decided to leave to avoid trouble. Here is a picture the girl took. Shame I didn’t get her name in the end…
As the sun was going down we were walking up the little hill just outside the fortified part of town, where one of the mosques is situated. The sun disappears very quickly there. It was only 5 pm and it was already getting dark. We could finally withdraw some money, because from the early morning there was no electricity in the whole town. And since we have spend most of our money on Rhys’s new “dress” and the rest of it on omelets, we were out of cash. About the power outage… I still haven’t figured out whether it was just one-time situation or whether this is how they save money in Morocco.
As we were trying to find out where the proper bus station was (the place where we were dropped off on the first night turned out to be so close to our hotel it wasn’t funny and certainly not worth 20DH for a taxi ride), we bumped into 4 polish girls, who we met at Balice Airport 3 days earlier. They asked us whether we would like to share a grand taxi to Fes tomorrow. We met for a tea and some food later that evening in Casa de Aladin and after a little “haggling” about the time of departure, we agreed to meet the next day by the Place el Makhzen at 9.30.
While we were having our late coffee on the Place Uta el-Hammam, a funny old guy approached us with his “music stick”, which looked like a wooden long pipe, wrapped around with colorful tape. He gave me one of his instruments and told me to play. Soon it turned out it wasn’t as easy as it looked! Rhys laughed, but we both couldn’t make it work. In the end the man asked for money (sure enough!). We had to pay for our drinks first to have some change. Of course the old guy stuck around until we payed him. One Dirham was not enough. He gave me a stare and dropped the coin onto the table. After giving him 5 DH, his face expression changed completely. He left happy, laughing, cheering and almost dancing. And as Maciek said “Let it happen. Let things find you in Morocco”, lovely pastries found us in the middle of the square just as we were drinking deliciously strong and sweet coffee. We payed 14Dh for our drinks and for dinner (one full set to share) we spent 75DH. For this price we enjoyed fried aubergine with garlic, chicken and vegetable tagine and oranges with cinnamon plus two plates of olives and tons of bread.To be honest we are expecting much more from Moroccan food. Bring it on!