Morocco: A Step Out of The Comfort Zone Part I
Updated: May 18
Sipping warm Moroccan mint tea at the random terrace in the coastal district of Tangier, we were wondering what surprises Morocco road prepared for us.
Two days of getting familiar with the northern city of the country before heading into its depth was enough to understand it would be nowhere near a cozy European experience.
What would I remember about Tangier? It's a contrast between the modern coastal life with fancy hotels and westernized restaurants and a medieval medina on the hill where touristic presence blends with authentic Moroccan traditions. Hectic traffic and lack of traffic lights added up to the atmosphere.
The marina had some interesting modern architecture blocks, a hint to modern development of Tangier yet to go on.
The side of marina with private boats is forbidden for shooting, well, the opposite side is mountains with windmills sinking in the light of the rising sun. So I smiled to the guard and pointed to the vistas of my interest.
And now close your eyes or blink for a moment. Yes, still in Tangier. From the tranquility of marina moving to vibrance of medina and chaos of souk Dradeb.
Souk Dradeb is probably the biggest fresh food market in Tangier, where you can see vegetables being laid out in the ground and chickens seeing the last day of their life. As there are only locals in this market, I went minimal and used my smartphone camera only, not to draw too much attention. There were a plenty of exciting and colorful scenes to shoot.
Heaps of olives can be seen in many Moroccan markets, the sellers will let you try them and choose what tastes best for you.
After the visit to the souk now I believe we know what ingredients make it into delicious tagine.
As our eyes started getting used to abundance of colors, it was time to pay a visit to the blue town of Chefchaouen. It welcomed us with countless amount of cats and tourists, souks with colorful souvenirs and sellers who moderately attempted to offer their goods, numerous riads and dars, small traditional bakeries, school kids playing in streets and local people walking in the ethnic robe. And moreover, it welcomed us with an open heart.
When you walk into the unknown, these are the times when you give up on conventional ways to learn the world. The doors that will arise in front of you and you'll be tempted to open, the gates you will pass through where you will be facing the crossroads - somewhere deep down trust your sense and keep walking.
It was in Chefchaouen where were learned what traditional Moroccan breakfast was, breakfast made with love. I still crave it from time to time.
There I had a special addiction developed for msemen bread.
Such breakfast was a true reward for the early morning exploration of medina labyrinth. While wondering through this labyrinth, we made some friends in the street.
One of them was a street dog Lisa, known to all neighborhood, who was accompanying us all the way to Bab El Mahrouk.
During our three days in the city we made a traditional route to go through the same street on the way to Bab El Mahrouk and buy freshly baked harcha bread. From Bab El Mahrouk we kept walking up to a nice viewing point with glimpses of rural life around.
Each morning was different and special in its own way and the last one graced us with a fog crawling over the town.
When fog started dissipating and more sun light was breaking through, it uncovered the colorful Chefchaouen houses scattered on the hill.
The same spot, but having my back to the city, was full of other life in the early mornings, like this old shepherd woman taking the goats out to the pasture...
Or like this young puppy playing with hens and rooster freely running around.
Back in medina sibling kittens, living at the threshold of the souvenir shop, were more of the characters on their own.
Always sticking together when having a chill hour.
Empty streets in the morning were enjoyable as well as random characters in colorful robes...
Kids on their way to school...
And mysterious man who could be a story teller about this town.
But in the end of the day all that mattered was "here and now", watching the sun fade behind the mountain and contemplating the blue town.