Some would argue that Chefchaouen was painted blue by the Jews who were fleeing persecution from Europe. Blue because, following Jewish beliefs, this color represents the sky and the heavens.
Hopping off the bus I took from Casablanca, I arrived in Chefchaouen without expecting much. Sure, it was on my ‘to go’ list for Morocco because I always see photographs of the picturesque blue streets. It captured my attention and I said to myself that I must go.
From what I understood, the Jews were looking for a safe haven from the persecution in Europe during the war. They were in search for heaven, so they painted the town blue—quite literally.
Quite the contrary, I wasn’t looking for heaven. To be truthful, I had no idea what I was looking for. I was always the one who was the first to leave, or the one who will try to not get attached to a place nor person. I wasn’t looking for heaven.
In the local hostel that I was staying, I met a bunch of amazing people: Cira, Saniya, Josh, and Jack. We were from different parts of the world, with entirely different backgrounds. Our common ground was, we were in search for the unknown.
One day, we were planning on going to this nearby waterfall called Akchour. It was approximately 10KM outside Chefchaouen. We originally planned to go via taxi, but haggling with Moroccan taxi drivers required a special skill. We mastered our haggling skills the night prior, and we were all ready when morning came. But before we left the hostel, we were greeted by a our friend, and a local named Mohammed.
“My friend wants to go with you,” he said as he pointed at the Slovenian guy beside him.
We all agreed to take him—Robbie was his name.
As we headed out to walk into the taxi stand, Mohammed stopped us and asked, “Where are you going?”
Confused, we answered in unison, “To catch a taxi.”
Robbie laughed and Mohammed pointed at the camper van parked beside the hostel.
“He drives that and we are going to take you with us,” he smiled as he huffed and puffed what locals in Chaouen called a ‘chocolate’.
We smiled at each other and hopped onto Robbie’s camper van.
I could’ve sworn that driving through the mountains of Africa with my friends in a camper van is, most definitely, a sight to behold and a memory to be cherished forever. Looking out the window was pure magic because you get to see the mountain ranges with your own bare eyes. It was breathtaking, to say the least.
As we arrived in Akchour, we hiked for about 3 hours to see the waterfall. Jack immediately plunged into the freezing cold water. Cira and Josh sat down and ate their salads, whilst Saniya roamed around and meditated. I was hesitant if I was going to dip my feet in the water but since we were already there, I took off my shoes and ran to the waterfall. I stood there for about three minutes and I was pretty sure I was going to get either hypothermia or pneumonia. I don’t know how Jack did it. He was an amazingly crazy Cornish lad. But then again, we were all a bit crazy.
We drove back into Chefchaouen, but we did stop to sit down at a local cafe to drink Moroccan tea and coffee. In that moment, I finally realized what I was looking for. I wanted to belong somewhere, and to somebody. In that moment, we all belonged together in that particular place.
As I looked outside the window, the sun was slowly setting and the mountains disappearing. I never intended to look for heaven, but I realized this feeling was heaven. This camper van was our safe haven. These people? They’re my family.
In the later years of my life, I figured that this moment will be considered one of the best moments. These young travelers from all over the world sought refuge in the mountains of Africa, and in each other, they found happiness, contentment, and bliss. I will surely cherish this memory forever.
(L-R: Jack, Cira, Danica, Saniya and Josh.)
This story was originally published on World Nomads, and I dedicate my words to some of my truest friends: Jack, Cira, Saniya, and Josh. All of whom I love dearly, and long to see again in the near future.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7 ESV