Chefchaouen lies high up in the Rif mountains and the reason for its nickname “the blue city” was apparent even from afar. Buildings are mostly painted white but doorframes, window sills and doors are more often than not the most vivid of blue. Streets often have signs in both Arabic and Spanish as this area belonged to the Spanish protectorate. Some distance away, there used to be a toll station for passing into the French area, much like how the situation remains between Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Another linguistic characteristic was the Tifinagh alphabet that made me think of Bliss ideographic symbols but in reality is based on the ancient Berber script used as early as 2500 years ago. Berbers are the people who inhabited the region for millennia before the Arabs arrived in the 7th century. Berber is an official language alongside Arabic, spoken by some 40% of the population, and there were many souvenir vendors dressed in straw hats with colourful pompoms; a Berber tradition. Something else that caught the eye were the cats; everywhere you looked there was a cat, even kittens only a few weeks old frolicked among the souvenirs.