Chefchaouen and Mint Tea
Our West Coast editor is motoring across Morocco on a Harley. Here’s his first report from the road.
Our intrepid west coast editor, Chris Cantle, is on a Harley-Davidson. A big ol’ Street Glide, motoring from Spain across North Africa. Two weeks. Thousands of miles. Man and machine, exposed to the elements, traversing some of the world’s prettiest and oldest and wildest places. He sends us periodic updates from the road.
Chefchaouen is the perfect antidote to a border crossing. The ferry lands in Cueta, a small Spanish colony on the north coast of Africa, and our group plunges into utter chaos. For most, the border crossing is just a waiting game. Waiting for information in a form to be filled out; waiting for signatures, for stamps. For my new Taiwanese friends it’s a damned ordeal. Hours later, we finally get the nod and head east for the Rif Mountains. It’s a range run through by a tangle of incredible roads and somehow better known for its hashish and opium.
We hit Chefchaouen late, around dusk. Lightning, then downpour. Doesn’t matter, the village is incredible. Tiny cobble streets are hell with the big bagger, and it is the first time I curse its name. A giant fairing mounted to the forks adds metronome momentum, slick polished stones, new boots add further elements of terror. It’s ungainly, but finally the thing is parked and we set off for the hotel on foot in soggy gear.
The whole town, every shade of cobalt there is. Everything within reach of a long arm and a brush is painted in a brilliant blue wash. The last of the lightning flickers around 10 p.m. I debate flickering, too, in my lovely old hotel room turned gear drying rack. But there is couscous, and thé à la menthe; sweet, scalding mint tea, which must be as addictive as anything else in these mountains. So I head back out onto the wet cobblestones and blue-painted streets.