We had found Casa Perleta at last! I finally learned how to spell and pronounce it. We were welcomed in by a Spanish woman who said she did have a room available for Thursday but not for Friday. She showed it to us and we agreed pretty quickly.
Casa Perleta is a riad, an old Moroccan house that’s been converted into a small hotel. These are very popular as you can imagine. They are usually decorated with all the wonderful architectural details, lanterns, paintings, pottery, and cloth that Morocco has to offer—which is plentiful. Prices range all over, but the ones we’ve stayed at have been very reasonable, around $50-65/night, often with breakfast included.
If I were a real photographer, I would put a black border round this so it didn’t bleed off into the white space, but I am not. Sorry. At least I know enough to apologize.
C.P. is well done and charming, and even has free wi-fi, but for me its real pull was Begona, the woman running it, who went out of her way to be helpful and informative. After showing us the room, she took us up to the terrace with its view over the town, then she carefully explained to us how to move our car to a closer parking space. Chefchaouen’s old medina has 9 doors, each with a different name, and they are only about 100 metres from the Bab el Souk, located at the end of a steep alley. First we found our way back to the parking lot where we’d left our car, where we saw a friend from Rabat and his family! Small world; small country. Ignoring the map which Begona’s Moroccan friend had drawn us (it utterly confused me; it was backwards from how she’d described it. I believe this is a consequence of thinking in Arabic vs English), we easily found our way through more crowded narrow alleyways to the Bab el Souk, outside of which is a very small parking area guarded by a man who feels you are there to put his children through college, or something. We found him aggressive and unpleasant, especially compared to the parking attendants at the place we’d just left. We eventually bargained him down to the price Begona had told us was normal, and dragged our case back along the bumpy well-worn cobblestones of the medina.
Once we’d settled into our room, we joined Begona and some other guests on the rooftop terrace. She carefully unfolded a map and explained to us how to navigate the medina, recommended a variety of restaurants depending on our mood/budget, and told us which sites were not to be missed, while we all drank sweet Moroccan mint tea in gold-rimmed glasses and munched tiny patisseries brought from a bakery just down the street. Then we set off to explore the medina by night.
Since we were still quite full from Abdul’s excellent tagine earlier in the afternoon, we got a small supper at a place we walked past, with wild décor and a menu in English that said ‘think you coming!’ at the bottom. I had a greek salad and a cheese and potato omelette for about $3.50. I am mentioning prices because I occasionally read other Moroccan blogs, and the prices they quote seem to always be in the $30-40 range for meals and $200 for hotels. I want people to know there are plenty of other good options out there, and you can eat very well for very little here.
In the morning we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast. Begona explained that each little neighbourhood in the medina has its own mosque, hammam (public baths), and communal oven. There’s a small bakery just a few doors down that she frequents for the churros and patisseries and other goodies she serves.
Although we knew in our heads that Friday was a holiday (Green March Day), somehow we hadn’t been thinking when we made our plans (or lack thereof), so we were happy that we were able to find a nice room in another riad that night. Chefchaouen was apparently filled with teachers from international schools that weekend; our fellow guests at Casa Perleta were teachers at the French school in Casablanca, and we met a large group from the American school in Rabat over lunch.
We moved over to Dar Mounir, a place that made me feel like an Arab hobbit. I loved the doors. I took approximately a million pictures.
The door to our room
Door from inside
The walls are actually white, but the light coming in through red curtains gave the room a cosy glow. The bathroom was terracotta, though.
Our bathroom. Well I guess you could have figured that out…
Sitting area. I did not see anyone sit here.
(Yes I know I am pitiful and snap-happy, but at least I’m not in every picture flashing you a peace sign. See? A bright side.)
Dar Mounir didn’t have the equivalent of Begona, although there were two friendly helpful young men. Donn moved the car and I checked us in, and then we set out to explore on our one full day in Chefchaouen.