You must have all read about Chefchaouen, both facts and myths. This was my third time here and I wasn’t looking for either. It was my next-to-last stop in Morocco and I had switched to a low gear. My cognitive radar was on low battery, leaving place to nothing but heartfelt unfiltered emotions. It’s that moment when you feel a crack in your armour, when all your doubts and prejudices start to melt down and a stream of light sneaks both in and out of your self.
I was in Chefchouen not as a truffle hog but as a wanderer on the way home. I felt like a small fish in a calm blue bay; no nets cast at me whatsoever.
Roaming through the hundred-hues-of-blue labyrinth is a healing experience in itself, but meeting warm and disinterestedly kind people (a breed on the brink of extinction in our neck of the woods) is simply exhilarating.
I was wandering in the narrow streets, looking for a hole-in-the-wall to feed my gluten-free gut, when a pop-up shop, displaying local artefacts, showed up on my right. I knew I couldn’t return home empty-handed after 3 weeks of absence. Inconceivable scenario for Maya or any other child, for that matter. So I stopped to cast a glance on what was on offer. I wanted something small, organic, stimulating and affordable. Up against the wall, there was a pile of wooden treasure boxes. Nicely decorated, they came with mystery keys and even more mysterious keyholes.
“Tell Maya, Hassan gave her this”
That would make a nice secret chest for her most precious belongings, and she’d rack her brains while trying to open it too, I thought. So, I took a deep breath, sharpened my haggling arsenal and struck up a conversation with the fellow merchant. His name was Hassan and he was originally from Fez, where I grew up as well, professionally 🙂 We chatted for a while, like two long lost friends; me about Maya, him about Hassan Jr. and both about our Medina of Fez, when suddenly he took out one box from the pile, rubbed it against his djellaba to wipe away the dust and handed it to me: “Tell Maya, Hassan gave her this”.
It comes a time in life, when you’ve struggled so much to be where you are, or merely to survive, that you cease to believe that kindness, for the sake of it, still exists… Until you find your Hassan, on a narrow street in the blue-washed village of Chefchaouen.