We arrived in Chefchauen shortly after 14:00 in the afternoon. We were supposed to meet our new host at 16:00 at the house so that gave us an hour and a half time to find something to eat in the old city. All packed with luggage we made our way through the blue narrow streets until we reached a small market place. There was a big fountain there and few kids playing around. We bought bread, fresh cheese and olives and we had lunch on a bench near the fountain, looking at this dark haired kid, couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, chasing away the cats and throwing a wooden stick at them. When it was time to leave we went to find a taxi and head to Ali Baba, our house. It was the same driver that took us from the bus station that came back to the Medina and stopped when he saw us.
We finally found our peace. The air on the terrace was fresh and our room clean and welcoming. Helga, a German tattoo artist and volunteer worker in Marocco, showed us he shortcut to the city. Only 15 minutes away from the blue pearl. The walk was pleasant and we talked a lot. Lucca and Davide arrived almost at the same time as we did so we made the walk together but once in the city we split ways. We decided to take it left this time and started going up to the heart of the Blue City. Fascinated by the shades of blue everywhere and the fairytale-like doors I started filming with my phone on time-lapse. I went as the road took me and literally landed in what I discovered was the heaven of Moroccan carpets and tapestry.
When we entered the shop Baba was busy showing a South African couple a djilaba. They weren’t going to buy anything but Baba didn’t mind. He doesn’t do this just to sell, he doesn’t treat any client differently. I told him I am here for research and I have no money to spend and he said “Look, I will teach you how to know the difference between the tapestry and the carpets, between the live wool and dead wool, between the carpets for tourists and the authentic”. I sat down and I listened.
He started unpacking carpet after carpet, tapestry after tapestry, model after model. I took my shoes off and sat down on the pile of jewels and I felt like a Queen. I told Baba I am writing textiles stories and I would like to write about him and what he does. What he knows. This art and history is to be shared with the world. Baba took out two books for me. Books like I’ve never seen before. They talked about the symbols of 15 Berber tribes. About their different styles of embroidery. They showed techniques, colors and patterns. Then Baba told us about himself. About how he designs his own tapestry now.
Baba the father is an artist and a wise man. And a healthy man. He suddenly tuck his djilaba up and made a headstand in front of us. He also taught me how to fold the carpets.
We came back the next day as promised. Baba the son had just reopened the shop after the siesta and he was preparing mint tea. He offered us some. Later that night he invited us to his home, to meet his wife and son. There on the rooftop of his house, with the breathtaking view of Chefchaouen below us, we were building our dreams.
Chefchaouen is home. I haven’t felt such a fulfilling joy before for long, maybe ever. Baba is family. This is what I felt when we came back from our trip today and went to say goodbye. We hold hands tightly knowing that it what is written for us will happen and we will work together for many years to come.
We started the day early to go to the cascades. I brew some coffee and we had breakfast with fresh cheese, olives and tomatoes. There was going to be a long way ahead and excitement was kicking in. On our way to find ourselves a driver, we stopped to buy tickets for our next destination. The plan was not yet made so it was time for a decision. We chose the long way: from Chaouen to Tanger, Tanger to Marrakesh by night train, and then, the next morning we would take another bus to Essaouira. It was going to be the longest travel here in Morocco. We made our way to the city and then to the taxi station. We haggled for a good price for the day. We were four now. We had met two other travelers at the house and decided to do the trip together.
We arrived shortly before 11. We started to walk up slowly, still figuring out our way. If you are foreign, directions cost money in Morocco. Knowing that, we tailed a young Moroccan couple who too had come to see the cascades and we soon were on the right track. Everything surrounding us was magical. After some 40 minutes on the road we took a short break for a snack and some rest. A few meters away stopped another traveler. He was Moroccan and was hiking alone. When we left he appeared to follow. We were now climbing in line, with me as the last in our group and Mohammed right behind me. The road was not difficult but every now and then there were steeper sections for descent or higher rocks to climb. Sprinkled as chocolate flakes on a cupcake were stone bridges taking us from one side of the river to the other. Seventeen in total. Mohammed and I started talking as he gave me his hand as support when descending from one of the rocks. From then on time seemed to fly. French was our language of conversation and we soon discovered that our cultural similarities are far more than our differences. We loved to talk and hike.
When we got to the cascade it was already past lunchtime. We were heated and the water was cold. We jumped in for a swim and a moment of eternity.