Woken from a deep sleep by competing calls to prayer coming from the mosques around us. 6am wake up call. We uncharacteristically stayed in bed another hour and a half though. So comfy and so tired. The roosters crowed and the dogs howled. And finally we got up for a shower and to pack our small bags back up.
We found our way through the winding stairwells to the courtyard and restaurant for a breakfast of bread and pastries and more. If you are gluten free - this is not the place for you. If you are vegetarian- it really is. Coffee and fresh orange juice. Yum. And the olive oil. Pour me a vat to bathe in.
We then found our way into the streets of Chefchaouen with a plan to get lost. Every alley was visited. Some more than once as we made a few loops. The sounds of cats mewing and people getting ready to open their shops. The air was crisp and cool - the exception being the rays of sun peeking over the mountains that were instant fire on the skin. Everywhere is blue until the second level. It’s almost like it’s blue as high as the arm can reach. Then we let it go. Kittens everywhere. Faint smell of spice mixed with cat smell and occasional donkey. But it’s charming and familiar. The steps wore us out quickly and we stopped for a break. Laughing with the tour group walking by cracking jokes about their weight and the steps… yes can relate.
Back to the room for a bathroom break and to cool down before taking off! Only a few hours here but was worth the drive out of the way.
Sallam picked us up at our hotel at noon. He commented how our luggage has increased. Haha! I feel like Mary Poppins with bags in bags.
With our increased luggage, we jumped into the van to drive through the streets of blue. Stopping at a lookout for a few photos and doing my best to ignore the kids trying to sell things “you’re so pretty” “you speak English?” I can ignore the street/sidewalk vendors with the best of them. Being a NYer does allow some nice perks like how to ignore whole groups of people. But the natural part of me also wants to buy everything and give them a high five and say “doing great, bud!”
Then we back tracked through the mountains and i breathed heavily for my fill of olive air mixed with dust. Watching the markets as we fly by. Everyone gathered on a Sunday to shop for household needs. Laughter filling the air to mix with the olives. My hair whipping around my face and drifting out the open window as a small boy on a mule raised his hand to me. In farewell or hello, I’ll never be sure. But I raised mine in response and he held my eyes with his own as his face broke into a lopsided grin. Which I also returned before we rounded a corner and were gone.
Stopped at a hotel for a lunch of Moroccan soup and vegetable tajine while watching the cats roam and the tour busses empty and fill again.
In the afternoon, the mountains turned to fields and back to rolling hills. The hills almost alive with the sparkle coming from scattered plastic and the realization that Morocco has the same trash problem as the rest of the world. Which is… a problem. Everywhere. We soon came across sad cacti. Being overrun with a virus. Hope they recover quickly. A lone bike rider peddling down the dirt road between perfect rectangles of imperfectly plowed fields that are watered by a mix of above ground aqueducts and mid level water trenches. Proving there is water even with many of the rivers run dry. Making the bridges we keep driving over, unnecessary. A plow came out to the road. The driver laughing and waving. Then came the mandarin trees. As far as the eye could see. And the side of the road held the stands to buy them fresh. The man with the oranges - smiling as he cuts one open for us to rip the fruit from the inside. Juice ran down our hands and our faces, leaving everything sticky and sweet. While we worked our way through two of them, Sallam and the smiling man chatted and I heard “American” in there. We are nothing if not obviously American. But we have been assured it’s a good thing. Americans are nice. Not like the French. Joking of course :)
Sallam pulled over to show us the stork nests. Built on the top of electric poles making them look like hay tootsie pops. Only the center is featherless baby birds not a tootsie roll.
Trees gave way to smooth hills of brown soil that is so light it appears to be the cousin of the sand dunes we will see later. For now though - it is still soil. Freshly planted with wheat and waiting to grow. Only spotted with the sheep that match in color, blending in if it weren’t for their shadows walking alongside them.
We rolled into Fes with a flourish. Dodging cars and bikes and people as we drove close to the hotel before walking the rest of the way. Best described as a city center of alley ways. Absolutely amazing. We stopped at the courtyard of our Riad for some fresh mint tea while being mesmerized by the intricate detail of the tile cut and laid by hand. Our room is phenomenal again. The detail in it is gorgeous.
We wondered out of our room and into the darkening streets (alleys) with the sole goal of getting lost. We succeeded. Dark alleys and dead ends. Round and round stopping only to photograph the occasional cat. Somehow 18 lefts and 23 rights makes a circle and we ended up walking past our riad. Which worked out since we now had an appetite. Off to find vegetarian tajine. A little less wondering as we were focused on a rooftop patio that was lighting up the night sky. Multiple flights up and there it was. Lanterns covered the ceiling above us and we ate our fill in bread, olives, and baked vegetables. A slow wander back to the hotel to try to shake off the last of the jet lag before a big day tomorrow!