I firmly believe that when people travel, they have this subconscious desire to find a true utopia. However, they are not always up to the task because their idea of utopia is wrong, not because it is the place where they live that is defective. For one reason or another, utopia has become synonymous with “cookie cutter idea”. Thanks to many science fiction films, we now know many of the flaws inherent in this unsatisfactory place. However, I would like to propose a place, a city called Chefchaouen, which is a utopia for a much more authentic reason.
Chefchaouen is a city located 110 kilometers southeast of Tangier. The reason I went there is a little interesting. First of all, on the bus between the port of Tangier and the city, a man was trying to push me to join him at this “cocaine and girls’ party” and spend the night at his place, free of charge (I really wanted to believe it).
I knew he was lying, like anything that’s too good to be true. When I got off the bus, two men came and shouted at the scammer, “Don’t trust him! He’s ripping off a tourist!” When I heard that, I thought these guys were safe and could help me (first mistake). Anyway, he went with me to get food and ordered twenty plates of appetizers before I could even talk (he makes me pay the bill at the end). At the end of the dinner, two of his friends introduce themselves and sit at the same table.
Then, all of a sudden, he told me about hashish and what I want. I say “Uh…what? I don’t want a drug addict I just got here,” and I’m shocked. He also acts surprised (not cheating on anyone) and told me that he did me a favor and called his friend (a dealer) for hashish.
He continues: “The dealer is upset that he had to come here. What are we going to do with this?” in a tone that suggests he doesn’t like problems and prefers my money. They all sit down again, leaning towards me, trying to surround me, and the fear of what these guys would do, as well as the foreign country, reached me and I gave them the money, left the drugs and reserved it in a home. The next morning, I was looking for a place to go and found Chefchaouen on the list of bus station destinations. I said to myself, “Why not? I like to be spontaneous.” I had no idea what this random decision had in store for me.
At first, Chefchaouen seems quite simple and routine. These surroundings are composed of white three- or four-story apartment buildings that are common in Tetouan. Once you have climbed the hill, beauty begins to unfold before you. You come across an open square decorated with some wall paintings. This square is the gateway to Chefchaouen’s true beauty. After passing the square, you are immediately distracted by the Moorish castle on your right. The left side of the street is decorated with a unique window, each dating from a different era. Despite the desire to stop, true beauty is even further away. Once you enter the old town of Chefchaouen, your senses become so satisfied that there is no need for imagination.
There are children running, laughing and playing cat and mouse, dodging other pedestrians walking without any problem. People of an older tradition slowly climb up the hill carrying their old traditions. The salesmen sell small bites at every turn of the torque. All the while, you are caught up in the peaceful calm created by Chefchaouen’s sapphire walls. The higher walk takes you to the old town square. This district was the least loved because it was the only district in the city that had a tourist character. However, it is easy to escape by climbing up to the mosque. The panorama is of high quality, with a mountain dome at the back of you and the wonderful Chefchaouen jewel under your feet.
Going down from the mosque, going down the blue alleys of Chefchaouen, you have the impression of being downstream of a river, while the descent goes up the feet in a calm rhythm. Your thoughts are calm, and you simply observe everything that happens in this utopia of a river. Then, by chance, you take refuge in a side alley, away from the current. Silence awakens you from the peaceful meditation in which you were earlier. In these aisles, you will find mothers peeling nuts, children passing the soccer ball or a man smoking a lone cigarette.