Vacation to the Rif Mountains, Part I

As Volunteers, we have responsibilities to our communities; thus, leaving site, for work or otherwise, is strongly discouraged1. That said, I planned my vacation late June and turned in the necessary paperwork: mapping out my travel itinerary in detail for each day. After notifying my community counterpart, discussing out-of-site travel with the police officer assigned to keep an eye on me, and seeking approval from my program staff, I prepared for my vacation to the Rif Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco Map: Vacation to the Rif MountainsPacking was simple: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, three shirts, two pairs of shorts2, straw hat, money and national identity card.

The next few posts will consist of my visits to Nador, Al Hoceima, Chaouen (Chefchaouen), Martil, Tetouan and Fes.

The vacation started with a quick stop in industrial steel-town Nador. The Spanish influence in Morocco is noticeable immediately from the architecture to the "holas!" greetings. Many people were surprised with my regional Arabic, and had difficulty understanding me.

Nador, Morocco
I sat at a local cafe waiting for another Volunteer3 and watched the hustle and bustle of morning activities. Meeting up with my travel companion, we made our way to Al Hoceima, the first vacation destination.

Al Hoceima, Morocco
Al Hoceima is a seaside resort that is popular with Moroccan tourists. The town is on the west side of a large crescent-shaped bay.

Nador, Morocco
The EuroFerry docked in the harbour at sunset.

Nador, Morocco
Al Hoceima's buildings are characterized by "tile-skin," such as seen here.

Nador, Morocco
Hanging out in Al Hoceima reminded me of just relaxing in Any Beach Town, California; I was a bit homesick as we left for the cooler mountain town of Chouen. The bus ride across the Rif Mountains was rough, periodically getting close to the edge of the often one-lane road. We stopped a few times during the six-hour busride to allow people to empty their vomint bags and bladders.

1. According to Peace Corps Morocco Policy & Procedure Handbook, September 2005 Edition, there are two basic rationales for this policy: 1) Saftey and Security; and 2) Integration into community.
2. Though my site is not super-conservative, I don't wear shorts while in site because, well, I just don't need MORE unwanted attention.
3. Due to safety and security, I cannot identify my vacation/travel companion.

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