As I’m sitting here in my dorm room looking at the dismal grey skies raining pellet balls of ice, all I can think about is going back to Chefchaouen, the 6th most beautiful city in the world and one of the greatest experiences of my life (so far). The blue city was one of those places where you can walk through the streets and feel like you were meant to be there. Nestled into the Rif mountains, it’s cozy and quaint with a comforting feeling, but it also encourages the exploration appetite with its beautiful ALL BLUE city and scenery. I was hooked the second we pulled up in the bus.
(photo credit: Savannah Miller)
First day we woke up earlier than normal (aka single digits, not double) and headed over to a cute and quaint breakfast place in a small town square. It was a pretty picturesque scene with flies and bees buzzing everywhere, fresh bread and goat cheese and honey scattered over the table and cats gnawing and climbing to snag some scraps.
After (finally) feeling more awake, we headed out to go hiking in the nearby (as in 45 minutes) Akchour mountain range. Hand to God, looked like a scene out of the jungle book with a PNW/Washington feel. The weather was pretty sporadic, but the scenery was constant and beautiful. The water in the river was crystal clear and cold as all hell, but refreshing to dip your hands (or your whole body, lookin’ at you Josh) into. Can’t help but tap into my Northwest, nature-loving roots when you’re out in a place as extraordinary as this. And of course, what trip would be complete without the typical mediocre white sorority girl picture? (Gphi or die even when you’re in a place where Greek Life is a ridiculous concept, and thanks Savannah Miller for the pic you’re a peach)
And then it hit us like a s**t ton of bricks: HUNGER. It was like the entire group was hit by a plague or something because we turned into a pack of hyenas shortly after we left the mountain. We were bracing ourselves for hours on end of the misery (woe is me) when the bus pulled over to a small and remote house on the mountain. It was pink and spacious, surrounded by farm animals and stray puppies and little chickens that kept running into the house. Turns out, they were friends of someone in the group’s and had offered to give us all homemade tajine. Queue the tears.
And that tajine is so far the best I have ever had, not to mention the delicious homemade bread and tea that we ate and drank with the meal. We were all so hungry that it was devoured within minutes. It was so fantastic that Coleen and Omar and I decided to steal all the leftover bread and take it in my backpack, which turned out to be clutch with the nutella. Even the stray black cat swooped in and grabbed chicken carcass off the giant clay plate (swag to you dude).
Finally, we returned back to the apartments after a long day of traveling. It took us a while to get our mojo back and hustle out to grab a bite to eat, but it was worth it when we ordered this amazing concoction called ZaaZaa, which is a combination of who knows what but it tasted like pistachios and peanut butter and that’s all fine by me. I was a party pooper and went to bed pretty early (aka 1 am), but Pink Floyd was singing me to sleep and I couldn’t fight the week-long exhaustion that finally caught up.
Sunday morning, which normally is a pleasant moment in time for me, turned to dread at the thought of leaving in just a few hours. The weekend felt like a timeless blur, and now it was finally catching up. Especially when I had to sprint to get ready in order to make it to breakfast.
(photo credit: Berkley Brown, swag best friend credit: Yassine Matuuk)
Post more excessive amounts of fresh goat cheese and bread, we walked around the medina for a little bit. The streets and alleyways were coated in rich blue colors and thousands of garments and trinkets. We stepped down into a peculiar antique like shop, and we stepped inside to find ourselves in a towering building of 4 stories, and covered head to toe with artefacts from all over. I found myself particularly drawn to a dust-covered combination of a tea kettle and a genie lamp. Adil told me that it was all bronze and handmade from the area, and that it was used to make the house fragrant with fresh flowers and everything. Could that BE any more perfect for my perfume-allergic mom back home?
With such limited time to see the city, we rushed back and packed everything up. It was a somber feeling from the whole crowd when we had to walk back to the bus and head back to Ifrane for school. We took our last minute photos before hopping on, said our goodbyes to Chefchaouen, and headed home. And of course the bumper (LOUDLY) popped off halfway through the drive back hope. I was screaming ‘TAKE ME BACK’ in my head the whole damn way. That’s when you know you really love a place.
(photo credit: Maya Bowdre) ((why am I always closing my eyes and cheesing))
Maybe it was the beautiful shades of blue or the fresh and windy weather, but I found myself even more in love with Chefchaouen than I expected. It feels like I left a little part of my heart back there. It was beautiful, mystical, unexplainable. Hundreds of years of beauty and history decorated in layers of colors from the skies to the seas. The only thing that could have made it better was having my Libyan husband Sofian and my Moroccan jokester Aymane by my side. Next time, guys ♥
I miss SoCal sunshines and Seattle rains like crazy, and I miss Chaptown and everyone who goes there like no other (especially The Coven, Hunter, Jasmine, Dareen, Imani, Victoria, Alex W, my big bro Sam, and my little Sydney… you guys are my whole world back in the golden state and here’s your shout out). I think the culture shock has started to really sink in, and I found myself longing for the past more than soaking in the present. I have hope that Chefchaouen truly taught me how to live in the moment (hence my lack of photos), and that the rest of this experience will be even more amazing than it already has been. Please know that I am loving and thinking about you guys always.
Thank you to everyone who made the trip to Chefchaouen possible, and all the people who were a part of it. Each and every one of you was so compassionate and kind and open to having a great time in a beautiful city, and your positivity must have rubbed off on me because I am overwhelmed with happiness and joy from you all. Special thanks to jedi, Omar Tombukti, for being a true grandpa and taking care of me and being a great friend. Anti qalbi, jed ♥
All My Love,
Elizabeth Jane Leonhardt
(photo credit: Coleen Scott aka my soul sister and the ying to my yang)