Friday, August 25, 2017

On to Asilah

 After a month in Chefchaouen, I finally decamped. I knew if I didn't leave after a month, I would never leave. After a month, I came to really know the blue pearl that is Chefchaouen. If I lived there longer, I would have ended up the mayor of the city, or at the very least the official keeper of cats. I will definitely add the city to my virtual Sultanate.

After a month, I had built a small community in this small mountain city. I knew a little bit about how the place ticked.

I said my goodbyes and my inshallahs that I would return. I will really miss the place, it really welcomed me as a “Chaoueni.”

That Monday, I left behind Chefchaouen and the rugged mountains that surrounded it. I wandered out its blue maze until I was spit out Bab al-Ain. I hopped a petite blue taxi to the Gare Routiere and caught a sweltering, sweaty oven on wheels to Tangier. The bus must have been ten degrees hotter inside than outside, and it was hot out.

I took the baking coffin on past Tetouan to Tangier. In Tangier, I fiddled with the bus station before hopping a Grand Taxi to Asilah. I piled in the back with three Spanish girls. It was not bad, they were small twentysomethings so there was some room in the full back. And there was an open window that blasted cool winds through the back. After an hour and some change, we were in Asilah.

In Asilah, I wandered through the old medina but could not find any cheap hotels. Or any hotels, really. Turns out that in the old medina, the way to stay was rent an apartment—something I would later learn.

After some hot sweaty searching, I took on the help of a tout to help me procure an apartment. I usually don't mess with touts, but in this case it was helpful since the only way to find an apartment to rent was to know who was renting. The tout took me to a few spots before I found something at the nexis of cheap, centralized and habitable. The place, owned I believe by a local muezzin, was fine if cell-like but I could move to a better property he owned in two days so I ponied up for a week ($80).

After settling in, I went down to the beach. This was a different site than I was used to. I walked aling the beach, past an ochre-walled fortress; above the fort sprang a whitewashed Moorish vista of whitewashed almond arches and square embankments. To the maghreb, the Atlantic waves washed along the rocky surf. I wandered down the beach past small plastic table beach tea houses under parasols. I walked along the slippery rocks until I found a craggy spot to watch the couche de soleil, the glowing orb descend into the Atlantic horizon. It didn't disappoint, with a stellar array of pink, peach and gold. There are few things better than a sunset into the ocean; all suns should set into the surf.

I wandered around a bit before settling in for dinner. I found a place that had booze (!) so I had a tart gin-and-tonic with salty olives and garlic aubergine before diving into a filet of merluza (whiting fish, Abba) cooked in thyme. It had been a while since I ate fish, and the combination of all the flavors were light, brackish and wonderful.

As for Asilah, it is a lovely whitewashed labyrinth above the surf. The alleys are alternately starkly white or with colorful pastel hues. There are ample arches, and exploding bougainvillea that pops against the white walls. Asilah is an artsy place, and there are all sorts of colorful murals that bedeck the white canvas walls. It is lovely, and I will have to snap some pics to share its delights.

In the meantime, here are some more pics from Chefchaouen.

1 comment:

DrBones said...

I know merluza from Spain on our honeymoon. Here we call it Hake Fish. I miss the green sauce. Yes, it is green