The blue city is heavenly, which makes sense. There was a large influx of Jews as the Second World War started. For the Jews, the color represents the sky, which reminded people of heaven and God. This is when the city began the tradition of painting the structures blue.
Our tour guide, Mohammed, lives in Chefchaouen! He is a Berber from the Atlas Mountains, and navigated the steep streets and unending stairs with ease. We blissfully lagged behind, enchanted with every view.
This heavenly place is situated on a steep hillside by a picturesque stream, which is a gathering place for locals to wash clothes and rugs. There’s an outdoor room lined with washboards and you can see rugs situated to dry.
There’s a steep ascent to a mosque that we slowly climbed. Mohammed pointed out a cave in the distance where the goat-herders live. We were lucky enough to pass some goats on our climb. The goat-herder is wearing a traditional red and white skirt that’s made locally.
The sun was setting as we arrived at the mosque. What a glorious view of the city and surrounding mountains we experienced!
The walk back to dinner was magical. Every byway illuminated with serene blue light.
The next day we had more time to explore the Medina. We saw the familiar drying racks that herald a barber shop in every Medina. We learned that if a merchant has momentarily left for a call to prayer, they place a large stick across the entrance to their shop. And we ate the most delectable fruit I’ve ever tasted–fresh figs the size of my hand!
The high point of our day was having tea with Mohammed’s wife and two boys. His lovely and intelligent wife (they met at university and she was an accountant before she had a family) had made a beautiful torte for us that tasted as good as it looked. The hospitality and warmth we enjoyed in their home will be a precious memory.
It seems fitting to close this post with a poem about blue!
Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?
Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet. By Robert Frost