My City: Chefchaouen, Morocco
June 22 2015
Located in Morocco's Rif mountains, Chefchaouen is a striking town with its blue and white washed walls and stunning vistas. It is a popular tourist destination, and is known for its pure and fresh water that you can drink from the tap (the only place in Morocco where one can do this).
I was introduced to this special city in 2009 when I agreed to chaperone a group of exchange students to do a 2 week home stay with Moroccan students. As a means to continue and strengthen the relationships I had made in Chaouen as well as help promote cultural exchange and understanding between the two cities, I later joined my city's Sister Cities Commission (I lived in Issaquah, WA at the time). I am still on that commission today.
As we focus on Morocco this week in our Summer Travel Series it is especially important to me that Chaouen is highlighted. The hospitality and warmth I experienced there - as I am sure is true in all of Morocco - still humbles me. It is a privilege to have Hasnaa, daughter of the school principle during several of my visits, share her city with us.
Now lets escape to Chaouen with Hasnaa!
Name: Hasnaa Boussaid Ahlouche
Occupation: Business Analyst
Hometown: Chefchaouen, Morocco (now lives in the USA)
How long did you live in Chefchaouen? Why is it special to you?
I lived in the beautiful Blue city of Chefchaouen for over 12 years than I had to go study overseas. Its special because it’s the route of my being, the seed of my ancestors and the birth place of almost all of my family tree.
Favorite place for you to meet friends and “hang out” in Chaouen?
The place to be at or the overall meeting ground is well known in Chaouen, a Beautiful Plaza next to an ancient old castle of the creator and builder of the city of Chefchaouen called Outta Hammam.
The one thing a first time visitors must-see in the city?
The problem is that there are so many first place and/or must see places in the beautiful city of Chefchaouen to pick one over the other, but a lot of visitors start by visiting the “OLD MADINA” the ancient blue city that kept its structure dunce the day it was build hundreds of years ago.
What is your favorite local food?
The Moroccan gastronomy is well known worldwide as it serves kings and queens, celebrities, and so many famous people that visits the country years around. Our flavors, spices, and mastery of dishes have earned us the second best food award worldwide. I must say that for me the couscous is my favorite and it is the favorite to a lot of tourist visiting our region.
Where do you go to relax in the Chaouen?
Chefchaouen is museum of relaxing areas such as waterfalls, mountains, valleys, and so much more. For me going to our local Moroccan baths called Hamam is the most relaxing time I spend there.
What is the one thing tourists always miss when they visit but shouldn’t?
Akchour is one place that all visitors must visit, a paradise of waterfalls and scenery.
What does the famous blue color on the outside of houses and doors of Chaouen represent?
It was the chosen color of the original residents of the city and ancient historians believed that the originals stated that the blue color was chosen to chase away mosquitoes.
Now that you live in the USA, what is the one biggest difference between Morocco and USA?
The biggest difference I would say is the people that lives in both places, Chefchaouen residents are very welcoming and their mission is the offer the best experience to all visitors no matter what their religion was, their color or their country of origin. A guest is always treated as a king. Chefchaouen is one of the safest places in the world.
What is a similarity?
I would say that both countries offers opportunities to those who seek knowledge or those who wants to better their lives. Both economies as growing and prosperity is in the horizon.
What can you tell us about Chaouen that only locals know?
The daughter of the founder and builder of the ancient city of Chefchaouen Saida El Hora became the ruler of Spain as it was Andalusia.
Do you have a special accessory or piece of art from Chaouen that reminds you of home (something on your walls, or jewelry, or gift)?
My house if full of Chefchaouen memorabilia such as bed spreads, Pillows, Art, photos, Frames, ….etc. We also have a Chaouen room in our house that is set up with Chaouen design.
Jen (not Hasnaa) looking over Chefchaouen from it Atlas Hotel.