Chefchaouen: Blue City of Hash

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Before Leaving America, The Language, and What to Pack

You can’t fly directly into Chefchaouen (pronounced: Chef-shau-wen) so check one of these Moroccan blog posts with a major airport for visa and money information: Tangier, Casablanca, Marrakech, Fes.

What to pack depends on what time of year you’re visiting. Chefchaouen is in the Atlas mountains and the weather is dry. During the summer it’s cooler than the rest of Morocco due to altitude, while in the winter it isn’t freezing cold, due to who knows? Bring a jacket.

Spanish, French, or Arabic is acceptable here. English speakers are harder to come by.

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Transportation to and from Chefchaouen

 Chefchaouen is accessible from Tangier and Fes and smaller cities in between. You can go by bus or taxi. (There is a train option, but you’ll still have to take the bus in between cities.)

Bus from Tangier: Leaves every 1.5 hours starting at 5:30. You can take the bus from the Gare Routiere. Here you’ll find like 8 different buses taking you to any and all cities. The price for a ticket is $2 + $1/bag of luggage. The ride lasts approximately 2 hours because it stops in Tetouan.

Grand Taxi from Tangier: Outside of the Gare Routiere there are taxis waiting under signs declaring where they are traveling to that transport up to 6 people for double the price of a bus ticket, although not really significant. Expect to pay $6/$7 for the ride. The ride lasts approximately 45 minutes-1 hour.

Bus from Chefchaouen: Chefchaouen is one large hill and the Gare Routiere is at the bottom of the hill and is quite small. You’ll need to visit the bus stop to check the times for each bus company.  But here’s CTM’s:

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Private taxi: Most people do this as a day trip by private taxi or rental car. Totally do-able.

Things to do in Chefchaouen

I think there’s really only 2 things to do in Chefchaouen: explore the medina and smoke some hash. There’s a waterfall nearby also, but I’ve seen so many waterfalls in my life, I’m over it. If you’re new to the waterfall experience and it’s a hot day, go for it.

The medina reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s Salvation Mountain in Southern California except that everything is blue and people actually lived inside. It’s pretty hard not to take a bad picture. The most basic of objects look amazing with the blue background. However, I think the inhabitants are 100% over tourists taking pictures in front of their homes, doors, and stairs. I can imagine it is annoying and they definitely express it with hand gestures.

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The merchandise isn’t anything I hadn’t seen in other cities. I really enjoyed the l’artisant Berber where they had entire rooms made of carpet and explained the differences in carpet designs between Nomad, Berber, and Arab, pointing out symbolism in the weaving. However, they’re gonna pull some shit like they’re part of a cooperative that lives in the mountains and women are weaving these things day in and day out and deserve more money. You can just go for the lesson, you don’t need to buy anything. Literally this lesson will be repeated to you in every carpet shop in Morocco and the prices in Chefchaouen are jacked up. See How Not To Shop In Morocco Like A Basic Bitch for more information regarding shopping.

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The second thing to do is smoke some hash. Chefchaouen is self-proclaimed the Colombia of Morocco. People were saying it like it was so cool, but obviously had never been to Colombia since Colombians main product ain’t hash. So if someone DOESN’T offer you drugs, you’re actually basic. But the 10 years in jail rule for being caught with drugs still applies (although I didn’t see one police car so I think you’re good). Everyone knows if you’re coming here, there’s a good chance you’re gonna smoke some hash. (I did not.)

What to avoid in Chefchaouen

I mean, I think if someone shakes their finger at you or motions you to get the fuck out of their doorway, you should probably do so to avoid fighting a little old lady. I mean, or you could fight her.

Also, this is not a handicap friendly city as everything is uphill and the floors are not level.

I would not shop in this medina. It’s a total tourist trap and most things in the shops are imported from other cities.  Unless you see someone making a product himself, I would just avoid buying anything. But really that’s it.

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I personally avoided the drugs. But that was a personal choice.

Where to Stay and Where to Eat in Chefchaouen

Casa Annasr is a hotel literally 10 steps from the bus station. It’s super easy to get to and hella convenient if you have bags.  They have 3 levels of terraces and it has an absolutely stunning view of the mountains. The décor is great, the wifi is strong, and the people are extremely helpful. I had to cancel a charge on my credit card and they let me use their phone to call The States 3 or 4 times. They will help you with whatever you need, but just know they don’t check in until around 3PM.   So you can just leave your bags and then go exploring if you arrive earlier.

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The only drawback is it is at the bottom of the hill and you’ll have to constantly walk up-hill to get to the medina or places to eat. But you better enjoy that ass workout. I did it in heels like a boss so don’t come here complaining. There are plenty of little boutique hotels within the medina, but I really liked that I wasn’t stuck in that little blue area. I liked walking around outside where the rest of the people operate.

Most people do Chefchaouenn as a 4-hour day trip and that’s completely acceptable. There’s literally nothing to do but walk around, shop, snap a photo, go home.  Obviously there are some hole-in-the-wall local things to do, which is great, but for the purposes of trying to maximize your trip I would just move on unless you have a ton of time.

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We consistently ate at a restaurant titled Twins because it was the only place that didn’t serve cold food and was outside of the medina since everything inside of the medina is way more expensive.  There are also bakeries that are open 24/7 as well as cafes all around the city.  The cafes are normally full of men, and I felt awkward at first since as a girl I was being eaten alive with a bunch of eyes, but then I didn’t give a shit.  So don’t feel bad, you would stare at you too, right?

Life & Culture

Chefchaouen is a super chill city; laid back with no guides bothering the shit out of you. I understand why people rave about it. I would too if you’ve been fucking around in the rest of exhausting ass Morocco. But I mean, it’s not a place I would ever return to and I wouldn’t plan a trip just to see it.

The walls are painted blue because this used to be an all-Jewish city and it represents the sea and sky (and now the color of Israel). But apparently it’s a specific color of indigo to ward off mosquitos? Not sure if that is true considering there aren’t any mosquitoes. It is no longer exclusively Jewish.

Check my blog post on An Overview of Morocco for tips on the country as a whole.

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One Comment

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  1. Hello. Reading with pleasure your take on Chefchouen, where I had spent the last few days, I thought some of your readers may be interested to know something about how not to be like a basic bitch while approaching the Hashish scene. After all, it is a hashish destination for the many, and I’m one of them, a sixty year old anthropologist. I guess I may be described as on old pothead. Oh well, vale. Here goes:
    Me and my partner (he doesn’t smoke) came to Chef to have a few days of calm hash vacation (for me) and a peaceful doing nothing but complaining about the lack of alcohol vacation (for him). Bottom line: we left happy and what else can you ask.

    Tips:
    1. Be discreet. This holds everywhere. Never smoke in public but stick to your room window or balcony or inner yard or what have you. The fact that you will see and mainly smell joints and pipes in public, this is a privilege of the locals. For you, it may end badly. In best case scenario, you will be regarded as a stupid person asking to be bothered.
    2. (Kind of a spin off on discretion above). Remember to assume that in a relatively small place like Chef, everyone knows what you are up to within a few hours. So keep them uncertain about whether you smoke or not. That is: never buy your stash in the vicinity of your hotel. Buy it a bit away and refuse with a happy smile the offers of the young and old in “your area”. My favorite way of refusal: I laugh, saying I am too old to smoke. This gets you a lot of respect. They are experienced enough to know a pothead when they see one, and this gets them confused in a good way. Good! That’s how I like it.
    3. You decide when and where to buy. No matter where you are, refuse the first couple of times. When you are in a bit of a know how as to your whearabouts, in Chef it’s a matter of 1-2 hours, make your move. That is, be receptive to the next offer you get.
    4. You will be approached while walking and that’s what you want. Say you want Hashish only (not Kif and not weed) for 60 dirham (6 euro).
    You may end up paying 70 or even a hundred but that’s ok, you are definitely in the zone now and you will be appreciated for knowing what you want.
    5. (Cnt’d) you decide how much you need. If you come for 3 nights, like me, and smoke 6-7 joints a day, like me again (basically stoned from 11am to sleep time), you don’t really need more than 2-3 grams at most. So don’t be greedy. For the uninitiated, this means you need about an inch long and half an inch thick “stick”. Forget about negotiating the price on the basis of grams. Be yourself and say you need little for 3 days. If What you will be shown is by far more, calmly and confidently explain again that its too much for your needs.
    6. Ask to see the stick. Don’t look nervous and don’t be nervous. Everything is cool. You are talking to a guy who wants to sell you something and you are happy to buy. By just glancing it, holding it in your palm and briefly giving it a loving whiff you know if it’s what you need. It may be bigger than what you need. See above, stick to your “all I need is for 60” etc. But here is the moment to be cool. You are going to be ‘ripped off’ for 5 euros! Yeah, go for it and ensure your happiness.
    7. Have exact money. You will never get change. Never give the money without holding the staff you are buying in your palm. If it doesn’t work, break off and go away. But it will be rare.
    8. I personally can’t be bothered about pipes and hookas. Too much trouble. Be equipped with rolling tobacco and papers. For uninitiated, a nice joint of hashish is with roughly half the quantity of tobacco in a regular cigarette, generously peppered with the hashish.
    9. Don’t play the connoisseur. If you want to show off go to a coffee shop in Amsterdam and if this is not possible to a house boat in Srinagar. Here, whatever you’ll score will be just fine to get a lovely head. Don’t worry, you will not get fake or bad hashish because all they have is an endless cheap supply of good shit.

    So… you come in for a few days, you buy only once and not in your immediate area, you are happily stoned, you contributed to the local community and you are spared the paranoid attacks we stoneheads are cursed with sometimes.

    All in all, I would say that Chef now has a nice top-five spot in my Hashish diary.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

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