Experiencing the grass capital of Morocco
11.03.2016 - 14.03.2016 16 °C
Sitting on the top of the southern bit of Europe, looking at Africa, I find myself without any real expectations going forward.
Walking just behind the waterfalls near the blue facades and winding alleyways of the town Chefchouen, we passed fields upon fields of marijuana plantages. The Rif Mountains is one of the prime location for Morocco’s big production of weed and hashish, and this is clearly visible when visiting the region. So while all the guidebooks praise the town for it’s old blue Medina (old town), the relaxing atmosphere and beautiful walks in the area, they tend to forget to mention that any visitor will be smack in the middle of the Marijuana-land.
While it is not necessarily to any discomfort to visitors, the marijuana trade is huge and you cannot avoid it. It is simply something you have to accept to a certain level. Both young guy and old men on the street is inevitable going to ‘psst’ at you offering in drugs – multiple times a day. This might not be any more hassle than the touristy restaurant staffers that tries to drag you into their establishment of the central street of any European tourist destination. A firm “La, shukran” (no, tanks) or three should do the trick. More ignoring is the hassle from guys who want to show you their marijuana farm.
They tend to be way more persistent. Mostly because those offers work in the same way that “would you like to come to see my shop” comments on market works; you will be pressed hard to buy their products, except in this case that product is marijuana. Whether you buy something might determine whether they suddenly want to take admission for showing you around. Having a bunch of marijuana farmers circling you, insisting that you own the something for having showed you their farm might not be the least intimidation experience so changes that any marijuana farm visit is going to be expensive are good. If you are keen to buy anything, you should seek advice at your hostel or fellow travellers who know a decent dealer.
Which brings us to the third annoyance. It is not necessarily an annoyance to everyone, but hostels will inevitably be full of hippies and other smokers who will be lounging around on the roof terrace for most of the day, enjoining life. This crowd might not be for anybody, and the sweet smell of burnt grass coming from the table next to yours might not be everybody’s favourite idea of breakfast. Though I particularly appreciated their relaxed attitude to… well, everything.
That said, the “Blue Town” is absolutely a lovely place to wander and get yourself lost in, which will eventually happen when you make your way into the Medina. The further into the Medina you get, the small, winding street the alleyways was full of daily life developing. Once in a while, you will pass a bunch of kids who stare at you in wonder or a couple of old men laughing silently at you. In both cases because they know you are walking into a dead end to corners ahead and have to walk a confused walk-of-shame for getting lost when you walk passed them a second time when you backtrack your way back out of the dead end. Further away from the city and the marijuana fields both the hikes and the waterfalls grow more impressive. A day’s outing is worth the effort, as many of the hikes add some adventure to the beautiful surroundings with slippery slopes, some alternative means of river crossings and some rather confusing and unmarked paths.
Take care, wherever you are.