Catherine Bussiere: Chaouen blues

On the ferry we saw the edge of the Rif mountains
Africa
looking for a culture shock
looking for extra heat

we had been told many things
the cabs, the haggling, the food, the art, the hospitality
go to: Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech
do this, don’t do that
and
it won’t be much warmer

we experienced the cab first thing
an old Mercedes
the grand taxi
from Tangier port to the city
a good half hour drive
full speed

as soon as we step out a young boy is offering us direction
I know where I am going
I have my map
it’s around the corner
still he is one step ahead of me
pointing to where I am going
I tell him I have no money
which is true, I will need to find a bank first thing to get some local change
it doesn’t make any difference
one step ahead of me he goes

we’re at the hostel
still the boy and now another one are waiting around for us to be done with checking in
they want to take us to their uncle or other relative for dinner
we are exhausted and just want to settle in
it has been a long day
the clerk who knows them shoos them off

welcome to Morocco

Next day Chefchaouen or like people say Chaouen
the blue city
the Medina (the old city) is so pretty
just big enough to think you may get lost
but really, small, so you don’t

cats are everywhere
most of them look good
I think it’s a good sign
our hosts at the Riad are most welcoming
our house is your house
truly

we venture around
I click away
every door, every step
every shade of blue
catches my eye

there are shops everywhere
everything is beautiful
I don’t dare let my eye linger too much
the vendors know
they will catch me
once your caught it’s hard to get out

eventually I get caught
come to see this carpet shop one says
I will take you there
innocently I go
sure, let’s have a peak
we are treated the royal way
the place is large
mounds and mounds of carpets and blankets
all of them absolutely gorgeous
two men are busy picking several out to show
unrolling them on the floor
tea is offered
we agree
it’s a ritual
it’s also a trap

I really didn’t have any intention of buying anything that day
I was going to be smart and inform myself first
I had been told to bargain
I was not going to buy anything big
we are backpacking

you see where this is going

a couple hours later I came out with a large carpet
two small ones
and two blankets

did I bargain?
no
I couldn’t get myself to do it
the craftsmanship shown to me was so beautiful
how could I undermine it

later I felt a bit like a fool
my daughter and I, on another walk, got caught in a different shop
the vendors are so slick
so nice
like fine fisherman, they know how to hook you and slowly get you in
I am the biggest fish around
he offers prices that are way below what I just paid
I feel tired, I had enough
we manage to get out of this one empty handed

my daughter tells me what we got was way better
thanks Charlotte

there is much to adjust culture wise
as a foreigner I don’t want to offend anyone
we are in Muslim country
what do I know
much to learn

we are in Fes today
biggest Medina in the world
this time we will get lost

here are some Chaouen photos
enjoy

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6 thoughts on “Catherine Bussiere: Chaouen blues

  1. You are right Sandra. I have been afraid to unwrap my rugs and have a good look just in case I had made a mistake. I felt I bought them too quick. Well we did have a good look at them a couple days ago and yes, I am quite content, they are absolutely gorgeous. Fine art really. No regrets.

  2. So many shades of blue — beautiful!!

    It’s okay to be “had” — it’s all part of the experience. You’ll love your carpets and blankets when you bring them home — memories of a once-in-a-lifetime trip! You’d probably regret not getting them when you had the chance. Now there are no regrets. Savour it!

  3. Your story is so interesting, reads like a best seller. The pictures, what can I say. Amazing photography. Makes one want to see more. So well done.

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