To get from Tetuan, where we spent the night, you travel through the Rif Mountains to Chefchaouen in the foothills of the mountains. As we drove, the mist or low-level clouds hid the mountains in the background.

We came across shepherds and herders with flocks as we drove through the area.

Then we arrived in the famous "Blue City," Chefchaouen. The city was founded in 1471 as a small kasbah or fortress, and its population comprised Muslims and Jewish refugees fleeing Spain. The current number of citizens is 46,000, but that number is from 2014, which is likely outdated.

There are several theories or myths about why the city is painted blue.
For Jews, blue is the colour of the sky, and in the 1930s, the Jewish refugees painted their homes blue. People believe the whole medina was blue, but many locals say the houses were white except in the Jewish section.

Or was it because blue repels mosquitoes? Some residents believe this; are they on to something?

Of course, tourism has become one of the more recent reasons for the colouring the walls blue. They are a photographer's dream come true, and many a selfie is set with a beautiful blue backdrop.

We spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the medina and, like everyone else, taking photos. Mohammed took a picture of me on the famous stairs seen on Instagram.

As we walked, a woman quickly grabbed me and dressed me in traditional native mountain woman apparel. Of course, she then expected a tip!

At one end of town, where people liked to climb to the top of a hill, there was a water feature. Currently, people use it to wash their fruits, but in the past, it was where the women would gather to talk and wash their clothes.

Later in the evening, out on my own, I came by two girls playing outside their home. The 8-year-old was a curious and bold child. She saw my camera and wanted me to take her picture. I did so and then showed her the results. Her 10-year-old sister also wanted to take part then. We tried to communicate, but the eight-year-old did much better in English than I did in Moroccan Arabic.

Isn't this gigantic Moroccan lantern beautiful? The shadows were incredible.

After a night in another beautiful riad, we travelled on toward Midelt.

Midelt was mainly only a stop on our way to the Sahara Desert. However, we had an enjoyable, long 6.5-hour drive along the way.

The first stop we made was at a highway-side shop. There, Mohammad bargained for two giant jugs of olive oil and a bottle of olives and considered the honey. I was curious about the bee pollen, so I bought a jar. Can I bring that home in my luggage? Bee pollen is claimed to lower cholesterol, reduce hardening of the arteries, improve metabolism, and increase hormone levels. It may also include bee saliva. Hmm, hm, good!

Mohammad was taking all this home for his mom. We returned to the van and continued until we came to a Sunday market in Pont du Loukkos. "The Loukkos bridge has long served as a customs post between the territory placed under the supervision of the French protectorate (from 1912 to 1955) and that of the Spanish protectorate ."

This market was a genuine local market where people came to sell all their products and animals. There were live chickens which would be killed on the spot for you and plucked. Or do you want to buy a donkey or a goat? Got it. There were also delicious oranges, tasty dates and all kinds of produce.

Mohammad advised me the previous day to ask people before taking their pictures. I did that with this wonderful woman who was happy to see herself reflected. Then, he advised me to take photographs discretely at the market and not ask. I was so confused. Many people did not want their pictures taken throughout my time in Morocco and got very angry even seeing a camera pointed in a direction near them.

Mohammed bought delicious oranges, the tastiest I've had anywhere, even in Morocco. He also bought dates and more olives!

We headed to Meknes in the van and had an enjoyable lunch. Meknes is one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco, located in northern central Morocco and the sixth largest city by population in the kingdom." Due to the length of our drive, we didn't stay around to see the Unesco-stamp medina. The Grand Mosque is the highlight of the medina, but non-Muslins can not enter it. Next time, I'll tick one more Unesco site off my list!

Now, we were headed to the mid-Atlas mountains and the Cedar forest. The terrain was varied.

We arrived at Ben Smim's lookout and took the time to snap a photo.

As mentioned above, this was a very long drive, so we took the time to look at the scenery and have some fun, which is what we did at our next stop, the Cedar Forest.

"Cèdre Gouraud Forest is a woodland area in the Middle Atlas Mountain Range. It was named for the French general Henri Gouraud. The forest is notable as a habitat for a sub-population of Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus."

Barbary Macaques have just been put on the endangered list, as about 300 are taken from the wild every year to be sold as pets. Another danger is that their habitat is at risk. They are familiar with people and do not appear to have any fear. Their main predators are eagles, leopards, and dogs.

Did you notice that they don't have a tail? "They have what’s known as a ‘vestigial’ tail. As the macaque has evolved, the tail has disappeared as it’s no longer required."

In the middle picture, he sure seems to be checking out Mohammad.

Don't you love how my linen pants got hung up on my socks?! So stylish.

We continued from there. As we travelled, we saw the snow-capped high-Atlas mountains. Somehow, I still failed to get a photo of that!

The terrain varied greatly as we journeyed past herds, camps, and fruit stands in small towns, which took us to Midelt.

We spent the night at Hotel Taddart, a large Kabash-styled hotel. It was pretty empty.


I got a bathtub! Yay!

That's all for now.

Until next time.......

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Gaye Tims

My name is Gaye and I am travel junkie in need of a fix. I have been torn between travel, creative arts and the law. Now I am giving into my creative side by including travel and lifestyle in my blog.
Vancouver, BC, Canada