Kenton and I stayed in the Moroccan village of Chefchaouen for a couple of days. That is a village about 60 miles from Tangier – a journey along fairly iffy roads that takes 3 hours by bus!
Chefchaouen is a gorgeous village, and probably one of the most photographed villages in Northern Morocco. It is inundated with tourists every summer – so we were glad to go in the ‘off season’ when things are more relaxed, and people have time to talk to you.
One of the big consumer items of the area is rugs. They are sold everywhere, often using a very hard sell indeed! They come in all sizes and colours, and are really quite nice – the ones in Chef are mostly woven by the Berber women, who work from their homes in the mountains.
How do we know this? Well, one of the shops in Chef was run by a 27 year old guy called “Baba”. He showed us pictures of himself bringing the completed rugs down from the mountains by donkey. So authentic you could almost smell the wood fires in the Berber huts!
We had a very long and interesting chat with Baba. He told us all about his family – how they had come from the south of Morocco many years before, to live and work in Chefchaouen. He has 6 brothers, and still lives at home with his father, mother and aunt.
He is saving his money so that he can marry his girlfriend, a young lady in the next village, who lived for many years in Holland – no head scarf or old-fashioned ways for this woman! Baba is a most modern man – with huge ambitions to have a uniquely branded, top quality carpet line that would be sold worldwide, not just from a small shop in Chefchaoun.
We talked about branding, websites, logos, selling techniques. We talked about his hopes and dreams for marriage and family (he wants only 2 children, and for them to study economics at university).
We also talked about the King of Morocco, his modern outlook on life and his work in modernizing Morocco. Baba says that he himself would like to see Morocco both in the EU and in an African union, as Morocco has historically had one foot in both worlds. The fact that Turkey is going for EU membership heartens many Moroccans, as it shows that Europe can welcome a Muslim nation into the fold.
We talked about immigration and tourism. He pointed out that he would require a visa to visit us in Spain (and it’s hard to get one!), but we require no visa to visit him in Morocco. That doesn’t seem right to me.
We talked so long that we parted friends. We have his email address and Facebook page, and he has ours – a man with hopes and ambitions just like those anywhere else in the world.