Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 4 -- Chefchauoen

Day 4 -- Chefchaouen

Pic from the top:
The hillside city of Chefchaouen; beef tagine at lunch; Ahmed the local guide

The day started with a town tour by a local guide, the irrepressible Achetot Ahmed, or just Ahmed. A short man, wearing his Berber djellaba (again, think Star Wars robes), with very pale blue eyes.(The light eye color is something I would not have expected in Morocco, but apparently, many of the Berbers are of lighter skin and eyes.) His voice at times sounded like he was talking through a tracheotomy box; then he would raise his voice and yell “hello” to get the attention of the group. Apparently, he's been in the Lonely Planet's video on the town....

Ahmed was entertaining, and like most local guides, is probably in cahoots with many of the area shopkeepers. We wandered through the meandering up & down streets, stopping from time to time, and then taking us to a weaving cooperative where a man and his sons took us through their different styles, types, colors, materials, etc. of the woven items they represented. And then they happily took our money. They had beautiful silk and cotton blankets, some of which were in beautiful ocean blues (the one Mom got) and a really beautiful magenta and cream colored one that another woman in the group bought. The teenage son saw me looking at the fabrics, and of course starts chatting me up. Before I know it, he takes me upstairs to see even more of the collection, and of course, talks me into one. It wasn't the magenta I wanted, but it's a small (2.5' x 4') cotton weave, done in beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows. Apparently poppy flowers and henna comprise its natural dyes. My first Moroccan purchase.

We continued onwards, and had lovely at a very quaint place, that turns out to be a 350 year old family-owned establishment, that also serves as a hotel. Lunch was fantastic cracked wheat bread, with mild olive oil, green olives, a quartet of cooked veggies (carrots, cabbage, eggplant, and something green....); all okay,but they didn't jump out at me. The main dish was a beef tagine, with green beans, artichokes, and green bell pepper. Extremely tender beef, obviously stewed for a long time. It had a faint clove taste, and of course in my opinion, it could have used more spice! But very tasty. A very caramelized flan for dessert with our not very sweetened mint tea, a nice change not to have the added sugar.

Ahmed took us to one or two more places, and then we were on our own. Mom, Peggy and I wandered around the streets for a while more, and then by late afternoon retreated to the hotel, just a hair from the plaza and activity. Dinner was here at the hotel, a harirah soup (I think that's how it's spelled) which is typicallly had at Eid, to break the Ramamdan fast, and another beef tagine, this one with prunes and hard boiled eggs. This one was good, and the prunes gave the beef a nice sweet flavor contrast, but it wasn't outta this world good. Picky, picky.... Onto Fes tomorrow!

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