Let me begin by saying that I’m a widely traveled person and independent woman since a young age. When merely seven years old, I spent half a year on an exchange with a French family near Paris. After British boarding school, at fourteen I discovered high-school and with it life in Madrid. At eighteen I lived for a year in Peru working with one of the most extraordinary development/educational projects I ever have, an orphanage and self-sustainable farm in the midst of the Andean jungle. A few years later I abandoned the safety and comfort of my Australian university for the adventures and challenges of life as a blond girl in China. In short, I’m not the kind of woman who needs a man or a group to attach to, to discover the world. That is, all but the Arabic world.
Yesterday we arrived in Chefchaouen after our first 24 hours in Marocco – in Tetuan – the warmest welcome this country could have offered us. Chefchaouen is a cutely painted steep town in the Riff mountains and couldn’t possibly be more picturesque. Fresh blue paint and flowers lining up to the smallest of little alleyways. Vendors selling artisanal crafts and delicious French-influenced bakeries. Little squares and fairy tale castles breaking up the maze of narrow car-less lanes of the old medina. Big square in the middle of the medina with cafes and restaurant offering the best views of the fairy tale castle and palm tree garden in its centre. You couldn’t ask for a better place to take the most gorgeous travel pictures. The price? It’s quite touristy and the comfortable distance of shyness from tourist-free Tetuan has given away to a hazzle of Arab men.
Another disclaimer. I’m the kind of blond, blue eyed creature who can only blend into the masses in the most northern of countries where I rarely tend to mingle as I’m usually follow the sun. Pablo, on the contrary, is more the southern mix type who blends in as a local in most if not all Mediterranean places we’ve been to. A well-covered stroll with him by my side (obviously no physical touching in public in a Muslim country such as this) and a kid on each hand through any town, including touristy Chefchaouen, is a pleasure. No one bothers us. We can freely chose where to stop for a coffee and where not. I can stare at all the beautiful artesan crafts for sale without being forced to buy any of it (heard of travelling lightly? Living on a boat? Being nomads with no place to put all this stuff?). Totally different story if I venture off without my man by myside. Within seconds there is a herd of Arab vendors running behind me with the most ridiculous offers, from marriage proposals, to gigantic prices for pieces of sh… and questions too silly to repeat here. All I can think of then is looking for the safety of his company or the quiet of our terrace-ful and chimney-warmed Riad. And from here it is, at six in the morning as sleep deprives me of its soothing calmness, that I listen to the muezzin’s call. Five times a day a gentle reminder that rushing around for money, weed (offered more or less discretely at every corner here) or the opposite sex is not all that counts in life. Five times a day a gentle reminder that spirituality is part of our lives and there’s something more Divine, deeper and noble to it. It’s the most beautiful sound.
And thus I send of these lines, wrapping myself up in the warm woolen blanket, dropping into a sunrise meditation.
Give every day the chance to be the most beautiful in your life.