Many know the Riff mountains near Morocco’s Mediterranean coast simply for being one of the world’s top producer of Cannabis. Yet, it’s got so much more to offer, including peace and quiet.
Four days in picturesque yet touristy Chefchaouen came and went. The best by far were the people we met and the book proposal we got on the way – by one of Argentina’s most remarkable characters. After him calling us to his table the first night when he heard Pablo calling the kids ‘Che…’ (a typical Argentine expression), we ended up having dinner almost every night as there were – and still are – so many stories to share. That’s a whole post for itself though, or more precisely a book (more on that when the time is ripe). Else I won’t miss the two hours in the morning having to wait for breakfast served by sleepy Riad staff in Pyjama (Riad Dar Gabriel – big no go as to 2015 management!), the annoying local street vendors and tourist filled cafes. It’s on the top travel itinerary for most Morocco visitors and therefor makes it onto our personal ‘least favourite places’ list.
Not so our completely remote mountain lodge where we ended up fleeing the masses. We are the only ones here and it took us ten minutes to convince the taxi driver not to turn off towards Akchou – the usual tourist route – but continue down the mountainous slopes another few minutes to take us to this place he had obviously never heard off. Moroccans can be stubborn I’ve had to learn! Once here any worry I could have carried fell off my shoulders. We all slept deeper than what we had done in a long time. 360 degree views onto golden mountain gorges and green forests. Although the Portuguese owner and passionate environmentalist, Daniel, seems to have a rather dark view on our future. Deep in my heart I share his worries. Will our kids still be able to enjoy such natural beauty with their own children if we continue to treat the planet the way we do? Still, I try to nourish the hopeful side of me which loves being able to educate our kids hands-on. Right now they are cracking open one almond after the other from the near-by almond tree which taught us all how almonds grow. I’m sipping my Moroccon mint tea in the white and blue-painted shady courtyard lined by olive and fig-trees.
Whilst inner peace is an internal affair, there’s certainly places – and people – in this world who facilitate the access to this ever-present space.
The next few days we spend hiking near pristine rivers, looking out for Berber monkeys swinging from tree to tree and really slow down as neither internet, nor any other kind of distraction, are inexistent in Akchour’s surroundings.
Camus: After a certain age, every man is responsible for his face.
PS Did you know how almonds grow? Here’s Noah and Gael cracking open the shells of the best organic, raw, fresh-from-the-tree almonds we had ever tasted!