Some of my friends and I recently returned from a weekend trip up to Sebta (aka. Ceuta) and Chefchaouen. American entry visas to Morocco are only good for 90 days, but a quick jaunt outside the country (or to the part of northern Morocco still technically belonging to Spain) will get you the passport stamp necessary to stay (at least) another 3 months.
We were planning on staying the weekend in the Spanish territory known as Ceuta (known as Sebta to Moroccans) but soon found that every hostel and hotel in the city was booked, except of course for the most expensive one in town. We wandered the town with our backpacks, looking for somewhere we could stay and knowing benches would not be comfortable in the drizzly weather. We joined forces with another roofless backpacker wandering the streets but soon decided we ought to fill our empty bellies before continuing the search for sanctuary. We ate at a Chinese restaurant where they not only tolerated our group’s lack of Spanish or my scattered attempts at translating for seven people at once, but then allowed me use of their pay phone to call every (booked) hostel in the guidebook, calling other hotels themselves after I asked if they knew of a place where we could stay the night. After every number anyone could find had been tried with no luck, one of the girls from the restaurant indicated we should follow her and proceeded to lead us through the streets looking for a place to stay.
I’m sure we made an interesting sight with one young Chinese girl leading six Americans and an Englishman through the streets of Spanish Morocco in the middle of the night. We tried three more hotels in person before grudgingly heading toward the four-star up the hill. Evenly split one night would be 50 euros each: not too bad for a nice vacation, but far more than our student budgets wanted to cough up. It was, however, our only option, and we decided to take it.
After dropping our stuff off at our new found home, we headed out for a night on the town, starting at an Irish Pub. My friend Ben was a hit with the bartenders, asking for and then demonstrating an “Irish Car Bomb”. They got such a kick out of it they didn’t charge any of us for any drinks past our first, and made sure to get our Facebook names and pictures with us before we left. The Pub was closing, so we went in search of somewhere that stayed open later, eventually getting directions to a club from a Taxi driver in Arabic. We found some interesting statues on the way and then danced the rest of the night away, leaving the club sometime around 7am local time.
The problem with staying out late while calling a hotel home is that after just a quick nap, it’s time to check out and leave. We complied, groggily winding our way and lugging our stuff to a neighboring coffee shop for some fuel to start the day. Our plan was to explore the big fort on the hill before heading to Chefchaouen to spend the rest of the weekend there, but the fort turned out to be farther away and harder to get to than we anticipated. We had fun exploring the peninsula looking for a way to get to it though, and saw some great sights on the way. Eventually we gave up, knowing time was short, and decided to head down to the beach instead.
The boys and Monica all went straight for the water, but I paused to explore some ruins on the way first. I had a lot of fun playing with my camera and got some good shots before heading down to join them. The beach was full of interesting rocks and algae, there were also some jellyfish and I found when I got there that Ben had already been stung by one. It seems New Jersey isn’t as good as California when it comes to “Emergency Education”, since he freaked out when I asked him if someone had already peed on it for him, but he refused all offers of urine from the group, insisting that it wasn’t all that bad, really.
After the beach, we wandered our way back to the main part of town to grab some food before heading off to Chefchaouen. We stopped at a snack place run by Moroccans and got thoroughly confused as to what country we were in or which language we should be using since everything was done in a mixture of French, Darija, Arabic, and Spanish. It was great! The people were friendly and the food was just what we needed to get us on the road back to “real” Morocco to finish the weekend in Chefchaouen.