Chefchaousen. Continued

About a year and a half ago I crossed paths with a young man in Kosovo. He had unfortunately arrived at the hostel on a week when we were full, and he had no reservation.  Fortunately the owner allowed him to sleep on the couch. The following day I told him I had discovered an NGO looking for volunteers and offering to help them find lodgings.  “Shall we go talk to them?” I asked.  We did and, we ended up doing some volunteer hours as well.  He did not get lodging, but instead started helping out at the hostel and stayed after I had left.

During our time together I was able to connect him with people who could help him.  It wasn’t that I knew a bunch of people in Pristina, Kosovo.  It was that I have no trouble introducing myself and asking questions.  At one point about a third of the way through our “relationship” I asked him if he believes in coincidence.  He said “no”.  I asked then,  why he thought these opportunities for paid work, meeting locals who could help him and his showing up at the right time to help the NGO create a video happened.  He replied, “it’s because you talk to EVERYONE!”

So, that’s the secret!

While wandering around Chefchaousen I met more than a dozen people.  Some encounters were brief, some casual like the two American students I shared a lunch table with.  The girl was studying Arabic in Morocco and he was studying in Spain, but they had met at university in the US.

The most interesting there, were a group traveling together who had come to Chefchaousen to volunteer with the charity group RIFCOM based in Gibraltar. All English speakers, but from different places.

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Happily flashing their RIFCOM Logo shirts.
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Caught’cha shopping and taking selfies  😀

This group couldn’t stop talking about RIFCOM and the local project they were joining.  I almost wanted to go with them!  If you are traveling to this part of the world (or even if you’re not) check out the good works of this organisation.  I did!

Later I encountered representatives of a Bedouin weaving co-operative from the southern desert area of Morocco. They naturally would like to sell me a rug, blanket or shawl. It is difficult to convince them that everything in my suitcase is an accumulation of various weights and that the airline’s have limits.  ” But, look, it weighs nothing!” they say.  A bunch of nothing eventually weights something. Lovely, but no thank you.

 

 

I learned a couple of facts: they not only weave wool they also weave natural grasses (vegan rugs); and the men weave rugs, the women weave blankets and wraps.  Lots of weaving going on in this community.

Like music?  This artsy place was where I met two American gals studying in Morocco; and, a Japanese guy studying in mid-west America.  Captured them making music on bongo drums.

Leather tooling is also a major handicraft here as well.

 

Last but far from least are the hospitable people of Chefchaousen who open their doors to thousands of visitors.  Remember, in the previous blog I told you that this community was closed to christians until 1920.

When you visit Morocco, don’t miss this.

I’ll be leaving on a jet plane Tuesday, for Spain, where I’ll be house-sitting for 5 dogs in a town 30 minutes south of Valencia.  Hasta la vista!

 

 

Mr. Harim’s British School & Chefchaousen, The Blue City.

Greetings from Berrechid, Morocco! 23 degrees Celsius (72 approximate degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny on November 8th. I’m in a 3rd story classroom in Mr. Harim’s British Language Academy. The landscape is endlessly flat, painted in various hues of brown, edged with tall concrete apartment buildings tinted in soft yellow, pink, sage and grey topped with satellite dishes and antennas.

Planes glide over the structures regularly on their slow decent to the Casablanca airport complex.  I have been told that a large number of airport employees live here. This is a community under construction. Buildings in every direction in various stages of development.  Wide four lane streets, busy little commercial ventures like the upholstery shop, hand car wash, fruit and vegetables vendor, bakery and plumbing services snuggle up against one another.

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Typical neighborhood under construction.
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British Language Academy

The school offers four English classrooms and two classrooms for French lessons.  There are five Moroccan female teachers and up to 9 volunteers who speak English as either their native language or some  as a second language.  Right now we have volunteers from  Sweden, England, China, Canada, Czech Republic, France, New Zealand, Australia  and Spain.  We are assigned to speak English with the students at the end of the lesson to reinforce the teaching and give the students hands on practice.

Because Morocco is a Muslim country there is no class on Friday’s – their religious worship day, and no class on Sunday either.  Most days the classes begin after 1 PM and end at 9:30.

It’s now the end of my third week and I am off to see the Blue City of Chefchaousen established in 1471 in the Rif mountains in the northwest of Morocco.  (6 hours by bus from Casablanca) This city was originally white and not painted blue until 1492 when the Jews fled the inquisition in Spain.  They painted their homes, walls and streets blue because it made them feel closer to God.

Chefchaousen was also off limits to christians until 1920.

Chefchaousen is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco and one of the most interesting for me. It’s not the beautiful and delicately carved Moorish architecture you find here and in many regions of Spain – it is the volume of surprises around every corner, the variety of designs on doors, walls, iron window grating and wild colors of scarves, shoes, djellabias and artworks.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, what follows is my narrative.

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The iconic image of Chefchaousen
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Wall murals and paintings dot the narrow alleyways
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Everyone uses tiles for decoration and practicality on floors, stairs, and walls.

 

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Paint pigments.
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The sign says you can take a photo of the enclosed patio for .50, but I thought the sign was more interesting!

 

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Water is very important to the Muslim world and fountains are found all over and everyone has access.
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Rounded a corner and saw this little guy sitting on the steps outside of his door.
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Dinner??
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No explanation needed!

 

 

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Sorry to see you go, come back soon!

More coming on the visit to Chefchaousen …. Stay tuned!