Driving along the cost of Tangier at sunrise, I realized I haven’t seen the ocean in months, haven’t touched it in longer. What struck me was not how long it had been but the fact that I didn’t miss it or think anything of it really. I live next to the ocean back “home” (one of the many places I call “home” anyway) in San Diego, but I’ve never really taken full advantage of that fact. I love the ocean, especially the smell, but I do not need it.
[Note: It’s similar to the difference between my parents’ and my perception of traveling: they really enjoy traveling, but they do not NEED it as I do.]
Mountains on the other hand, are a whole different story. Driving in to the small town of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains was like coming home again. The air was fresher, the elevation higher, and the skyline filled with rocky outcroppings and mountainous hills. Even the road, which unfortunately made my friend carsick, made me feel like I was right back home in Calaveras or Amador County.
My friend Gabriel and I had decided to spend the weekend after Fall Break in Chefchaouen in the hopes of getting some more hiking in before the end of the semester. While hiking was our initial goal, the highlight of the trip turned out to be the town itself. Chefchaouen is known for having blue walls, but you don’t see much from outside the city. On street level, however, there is a lot more color, and in the medina there are some places where every visible surface is painted.
Hiking didn’t work out as well as we had hoped: the taxi out of town was expensive, our backpack broke, we had a hard time finding the right trail, and then it started raining. We took refuge in a cafe in Akchour until we could get another taxi back to Chefchaouen, feeling (and probably looking) rather like drowned rats.
Despite everything that went wrong, however, we both still managed to have a good time. We built a mini rock bridge so Gabriel could get out onto a big rock in the middle of the river, we explored some abandoned buildings and rock chimneys (I couldn’t pass by it without climbing inside now could I?), and we talked to some interesting people [The Rif Mountains, and Chefchaouen in particular, are known for kif and the crazy “Hat Man”, selling hats and bartering while high as a kite, was just one example of its omnipresence]. With the day’s adventures, we were soaked and freezing by mid-afternoon but we had fun.