21.05.2014 - 23.05.2014 68 °F
It is finally time to cross the straits of Gibraltar. We awoke early to the sound of a torrential downpour waiting til it subsided we rushed to the ferry forgetting my towel at the hostel. On the way there several of the sewers were backed up onto the streets and the promenades had holes in their roofs so we were soaked by the we boarded the ferry.
Once we arrived it was a dash to the free bus to get to Tangier where our connection was located. After the driver gets about a quarter mile from the port, and with our luggage secure in the bowels of the bus, he pulls over and demands 50 dirham (about €5) from us to purchase tickets. Not really having an option we payed up.
Once we got to Tangier, we immediately had people offering to help us with anything but they were only looking for money. Nice but greedy is how I would describe Moroccans. At the bus station we pushed pass the press of passengers and "ticket sellers" to get to the ticket offices. Here we finally purchase our tickets. I had asked the man if he took euros, to which he replied yes but then demanded an absurd exchange rate of one to one. I pulled out my phone and showed him it is 1 euro to 12 dirhams and we agreed on a 1 to 10 rate. So lost another euro on that.
While we waited we saw a man wearing an Oregon Ducks shirt and chatted with them. They live in southeast Portland and, together with a Japanese girl from Sapporo, we traveled onto our mutual destination. Once again we had an issue with the seats. The driver told us to sit wherever we wanted but at the next stop we all had to move as the seating was assigned. Ben was in full on culture shock by this point. The crowds, the yelling, no one following traffic lines or signals. I told him China was the same and hadn't seen any accidents there, so don't worry. Much to my chagrin there were two major accidents on our way to Chefchaoen. A head on collision and a car driven into a ditch.
We parted ways with the Oregonions and the Japanese girl and opted to walk to the Medina (old town). Chefchaoen is famed for two things: the blue buildings and marijuana. Although illegal here in Morocco, it is a major crop here in the Rif mountains. Ben was offered some weed about seven times.
The hostel we stayed at, Riad Baraka, is the best hostel I have ever stayed at. It is a converted 600 year old house that use to house a family per room. The owner is British and has been in Morocco for the last twenty years. Ben's culture shock continued when he was awoken by the Islamic call to prayer 6:30am.
The food we had was made from the freshest ingredients. For breakfest we had the local bananas, kiwi and melons on yoghurt.
Dinner was composed of fresh bread that was very similar to ciabatta. We also had a legume soup, chicken briouts (minced chicken wrapped in a filo dough like pastry) and basteeya (pigeon mixed with almonds, wrapped in dough and covered in powdered sugar).
Chefchaoen being a small town, we ran into the Oregonians again at dinner.