From: #flymeto | Oct 12, 2018
The Rif Mountains do not turn blue in the distance. Why would it also do that when the blue town of Chefchaouen is right in its hills? After one mountain with two peaks even got the name ech-Chaoua means horns. Either it is because you have mountains literally around the corner. Or because this city, with the heart of ancient Arab medina, can poke pretty lined corners. It smells of traditional spices in one alley. In another traditional hashish. You trade happily with both.
Pluck what you can in the market
Local markets are called suqs and their eyes are shifting. If you are not careful, you will buy so many souvenirs here that your luggage will not let into the plane. Local highlights include handmade and colored ceramics with original patterns, silver trays, Rif carpets and local blankets, sheep wool and camel fur clothes, tortoiseshell jewelry, dozens of spices, etc. Of course, a bargain is a prerequisite for any well-concluded business. They must bargain. It is a Moroccan national sport in which it is all about honor and fun. At the end of the transaction, you smile with the salesman and thank each other by saying: Shukran Lak.
pierivb, anass bachar, Sylvia_Kania, pepmiba | istockphoto.com
A mysterious mixture smelling in tin
Taste it before picking spices. Trying the traditional North African tažín is practically an obligation here. It is a spicy mixture of meat and vegetables, to which olives or fruit can also be added. It is prepared in a special container of the same name. In cheerfully glazed earthenware with conical lids, raw materials are stewed on charcoal. If you order luggages in Tunisia, you won’t get the same meal - they will serve you something like egg omelette or stuffing. Spicy food is abundantly drunk with refreshing and sweet green tea, which is brewed here in the café all day with fresh mint.
The real Moroccan mainstream never misses the Ras el hanout spice. The local specialty is mixed with about thirty kinds of spices and gives the character of most dishes. It usually contains cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, allspice, cloves, chili and pepper. There is no universal recipe, every trader combines it a little in his own way. Since the 90s it is forbidden to add Spanish flies. But you can’t be sure. Marijuana is also banned in Morocco and yet there is more than enough.
A little different aromatic spice
Once you enter the city, within five minutes someone will offer you another local specialty to spice up your life. Hashish. In particular, in Chefchaouen, the police are surprisingly tolerant of this illegal attraction. Among the tourist offers is a trip to the long cannabis plantations outside the city. Hemp farmers say kif and this word comes from the Arabic word for pleasure. They will also show you how to make hashish from kifu. It separates the resin from the female flower through a sieve and then compresses it into the hash model. In twenty minutes they have up to 10 grams of hashish per kilogram of kif. It is then smoked mixed with tobacco in smaller hookahs or long and thin pipes, called sebs.
Controversial tourist attraction
However, the purpose of these trips is to sell you the final product. Prepare that curiosity can put you in a very unpleasant situation. Some charming guides do not hesitate to change their face a few kilometers from the safety of the city to convince you that what you have “bought” needs to be paid the right price. Most cannabis production is concentrated in the Rif Mountains, and it is among the poorest. About 40% of Moroccans under 40 are unemployed and, whether legal or not, marijuana is an indispensable source of livelihood for them. Of the 33 million Moroccans, a million are involved in hashish trade. Cannabis Legalization Committees and some political parties are trying to create a legal framework for their business. According to them, a re-evaluation of the relationship to cannabis should take place at least in the field of medicine.
Yet the hashish trade and smoking in Chefchaouen is still a risk. Violations of the law have been punished in Morocco for 10 years in prison. Given that marijuana is unofficially one of the most highly valued ransom items, the state is not interested in starkly opposing business with it. Penalties and fines are often just ignorant or overly carefree tourists. It is not only necessary to look out for genuine sellers, but also for the fake, ie disguised controllers. If you see a tourist in difficulty, the good advice is to ask for a fine on the spot, because you would not wish any Moroccan prison.