Lost in Rif

When we were considering coming to Morocco. I had but one limitation. Let’s not go to the Rif mountains. Worse than going through the Rif mountains, of course, would be getting lost in them. Now, the Rif mountains are probably one of the most stunningly scenic areas we have seen so far. High mountains, terraced gardens, crystal clear water cascading down the hillsides. The problem is what they grow in the beautiful terraced garden.

Time to back up. We decided to miss Meknes. Something about having experienced enough cities and wanting to save a beautiful jewel to ensure a return to Morocco. We opted for the eastern route to Tanger. Mistake number 1. Mistake number 2 was putting 2 gitty teenage girls in the front to navigate. They had a great time in the front, singing energetic songs and telling animated stories, however, there was a deviation in the route that brought us up a tiny mountain pass. The first day of our detour wasn’t so bad. Small village roads.

Andrew getting us to snap lots of photos of the crumbling roads and sharp turns

and more crumbling roads

as we wound our way through the mountain pass. So beautiful! Villagers applauding our efforts as we passed. Dogs and other animals slowly moving off the road. We wild camped, under the full moon, in an amazing place next to the river for the night. The next morning, as Andrew was driving and me and Abi were desperately looking at the map trying to figure out where we were. We were asking locals for directions. Nobody could tell us where we were on the map, as they were not familiar with maps, but they told us how to get to Chefchauen. I came to a realization that we might indeed be in the Rif mountains. We wouldn’t be in THOSE Rif mountains. We wouldn’t be LOST IN THOSE Rif mountains. What Rif mountains? Only, the marajuana capital of the world Rif mountains! Just as the reality was still sinking in a man on the side of the road held up a small pouch and yelled “HASHISH”. Another man on the other side of the road made a smoking jesture and smiled real big. OH NO!

The rest of the day was just a bit stressful. Still, crumbling roads and men everywhere offering Hashish. One man kept passing us up in his green mercedes with a free-range 2 year old in the passenger seat. He would pull over in front of us and offer us Hashish again. Andrew would swerve to miss him and continue on. When the kids couldn’t hold it in any more we pulled over by an isolated bit of woods to relieve ourselves. Another green mercedes pulled over behind us. Moments later, a red mercedes pulled over in front of us to make another offer. Just for the record I would like to say. No, we did not buy any Hashish. We value our freedom and travel too much. I longingly looked at a bunch of bananas on the roadside, at one point, until men started running up to our truck and I played out a scenario in my mind, “A little hashish with your bananas?” This is how are day continued. At first it was all fun. Andrew continued to make light of it all but it was starting to get to him.

Exhausted, we pulled into Chefchauen for a rest and a Hamam from a building that looked like a puffy blue marshmallow house. Some of us opted for a massage (an energetic scraping off of the top layer of skin). We finished off the day at a petrol station as we couldn’t find a good place in town. Karim taught us how to make Harira, his mum would be so proud. Andrew was asleep by the time the Harira was cooked. An exhausting day.

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