Fall Break has arrived for St. Olaf students both on and off campus, and our group wasted no time in finding locations well-suited for a change of pace and chance to see what else Morocco has to offer outside of Fez.
Ben proposed the idea of a weekend spent hiking in the Rif Mountains of Morocco, with lodgings just a short drive from the beautiful town of Chefchaouen, and seven of us (Mike, John, Duncan, Matt, Alex, Meg, Lizzie and Amy) found ourselves taken with the offer and packed our bags. In addition, we were joined by a new friend Alex, an Irishman in his early 20’s who had left his native country to explore Morocco for a month, and whom we had met recently in a local cafe.
We reached our destination via a 4 hour bus ride through Moroccan countryside (sheep
everywhere), a walk through the Chefchaouen medina (blue everywhere), and a steeply winding and slightly terrifying Land Rover ride through the Rif Mountains (sheer cliff-faces, drop offs and a texting chauffeur everywhere).
We had no idea what to expect, and the hiking proved to be challenging and invigorating. Our first trek was 16 miles roundtrip, and many of the stretches required both a great deal of focus and a certain degree of ankle support, which our trusty Chacos struggled to provide. But, our group was in good spirits, and we channeled our inner mountain goats as we followed our sure-footed guide Abdel. The second day of hiking was much less strenuous, about 9 miles, but yielded equally beautiful scenery. I’ll let the photos do the talking here.
Our residence was a wonderful base to return to after a long hike, complete with meals, fuzzy blankets and yet another Alex (a dog this time). We were lucky enough to have the small villa completely to ourselves and savored each evening, watching the vivid sunsets, conversing over meals, and of course, viewing a nightly rom-com (a necessity when taking a break from scholarly thoughts).
We spent our last day exploring Chefchaouen (and celebrating Matt’s 21st birthday!) before boarding the bus back to Fez.
I believe everyone returned from the trip with satisfied souls, well-rested brains, and sore calves — a great Fall Break if you ask me.