Vacation to the Rif Mountains, Part II

The Rif Mountains region is internationally associated with the cultivation of hashish1; having gone to the UCSC2, you'd expect me to know this .. but I didn't .. and that's not the reason I decided to visit Chaouen. Association Youssoufia pour les Homme HandicappeOne of the reasons I wanted to visit Chaouen was to visit an artisanal weaving cooperative that came to a recent craft fair in Khemisset: Association Youssoufia pour les Homme Handicapee.

The association consists of about 40 artisans who are primarily weavers; they were invited to participate in acraft fair in my town. I took the opportunity to meet with the association's president (pictured) to learn about their marketing strategies and product development, and how I could help them. This "postcard" shows some of the wool fabrics they weave and sell; some members are also tailors and seamsters, making fine winter jackets and coats. I've already ordered a coat in anticipation of a cold winter.

Chaouen is very tourist-friendly, where guides and shopkeepers are not overly aggressive in dealing with tourists, i.e. they don't grab you by the arm and pull you into their shops.

Chaouen, Morocco
Once a year, the majority of homes in the medina are bathed in a whitewash lime mixture of water and blue paint; the blue is thought to ward off the evil eye. We arrived in town rather late in the day, during high tourist season. Vacationing on a shoe-string budget, we slept on the roof of a pension that first night.

Blue door in Chaouen, Morocco
This is a typical blue-painted door of homes in the medina.

Trekking in Chaouen, Morocco
The region around Chaouen is popular with tourists looking for hiking trails and camp grounds. Going on a four-hour hike-loop took us across hashish plantations and slowly up the foothills of the Rif.

Chaouen, Morocco
Trekkers hiking just a short distance outside of Chaouen are rewarded with this dramatic townscape; even locals take pride in their town and the fresh air (often with a hint of kif).

Kasbah, Chaouen, Morocco
One of the attractions in Chaouen is the ancient kasbah (fortress-castle) with its quiet garden and retired prison. The kasbah and the 15th-century Grand Mosque (with its distinctive octagonal minaret) are in the cobbled Plaza Uta el Hamman.

Kasbah look-out, Chaouen, Morocco
This is a view from the inside of the prison tower of the kasbah.

Chaouen, Morocco
One of the buildings next to the defunct prison now serves as an art gallery for visiting artists. I forgot to write down the name of the artist, but his works is clearly influenced by Hinduism.

Street in the medina, Chaouen, Morocco
I was already making plans to visit Chaouen even as I took an early morning stroll through the medina.

Cat in Chaouen, Morocco
One of the many cats in the medina saying bye-bye as we headed out towards our next destination: Tetouan and the coastal town of Martil.

1. Hashish is also known as cannabis, marijuana, MJ, kif, etc.
2. University of California at Santa Cruz; however, many UCSC alumni also refer to the higher education institution as Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp for its Redwood forests and idyllic beaches.

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