Synagogue within the medina of Tetouan

Synagogue within the medina of Tetouan

On our way back from Spain, we stopped off to see some of northern Morocco. In part, this was to enable me to finally finish my self-appointed task of seeing every UNESCO heritage site in Morocco. We stopped in Tangier for a few days (that’ll be a post later), then headed to Chefchaouen, a small little village in the Rif Mountains known for its use of blue paint and its proximity to Morocco’s underground marijuana industry, a major reason why Peace Corps does not place volunteers in the area.

The countryside around it has a reputation for being a prolific source of kief. The Chefchaouen region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. Hashish is subsequently sold all over town, but is mostly the domain of native Chaouenis. A nearby attraction is the Kef Toghobeit Cavewhich is one of the deepest caves in Africa.[4]

To finish my UNESCO mission, I left for the day to visit the medina of Tetouan, about an hour away. Though the town was nice enough, the UNESCO portion was a bit anticlimactic. The medina is much like any other medina in Morocco, though I did find an old, and still active, synagogue. According to a local, there are still seven Jews who worship there.

According to Complete Morocco, ‘The name “Chefchaouen” simply refers to the shapes of the mountaintops that tower over the town, that look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat. “Chef Chaouen” literally means, “look at the horns”.’ It’s situation, being on the side of mountain, means that everything is on a hill, so there is plenty of exercise to be had. The blue of the town is lovely and adds a soft coolness to the feel of the town.

While we were there, the weather was turning toward fall, so there were fantastic thunder and lightning storms as well as occasional torrents of rain. This made the surrounding mountaintops misty and beautiful.

Though many of the restaurants serve typical Moroccan fare, we quite enjoyed our meal at Restaurant Populaire Bab Ssour. It had a nice, casual feel and great food. We even met another American there.

Overall, it was a nice little town. Though the weather limited out adventures, we were able to explore a bit. Below are some photos of our time there.

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