by Lena

15.Elena Levon Photography Chefchaouen - 15

Maya ~ The supernatural power wielded by gods and demons to produce illusions.

To me, that’s what Chefchaouen is…

It’s a place with no time, it’s a place where your imagination gets to run free.

A place where nothing is what it seems.

Like a chameleon…

Walls of this city changes colors, as morning turns into day and day dissolves into night…

I was really exited to be exploring this gorgeous blue city, taking loads of photos and going for a hike in the surrounding mountains …

However, Life had other plans for me…

It rained the whole time I was in Chef. But I did get to see one sunset.



I have never written a bad review on my website before.

But if you know me, you’ll know, that I love doing things for the first time… besides, the owner of Riad Baraka basically dared me.

Don’t wanna disappoint…

I spend first 2 nights at RIAD BARAKA

It was the worst decision of my time in Morocco.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous Riad with beautiful views, but it has a HUGE disadvantage – the owners.

They are by far, the most rudest people I have ever met in Morocco.

They are not Moroccan ( of course they are not! )

They are very rude to their staff who works for them and to customers who pay them money.

The owner of Riad Baraka has screamed profanities at me and at the man who works for him on more than one occasion.

One of the sons, who’s stoned all the time, walks with his ass hanging out of his pants, while you’re trying to have breakfast.

Anyway, I spend my last night at a different hotel. So sad that beautiful Riad Baraka is being ruined by clueless owners.

Riad Baraka is now number 5 on tripadvisor for B&B (before this article it was number 2)

Owners do anything in their power to delete all the bad reviews.. like mine.

Joe McCourt -owner and tripadvisor team deleted my reviews on tripadvisor 5 times. ( he really doesn’t want mine to be up there )


Actually, my review was up there for about a week, that had a bunch of helpful votes from travelers…

Since, I knew that permanently stoned Joe, will do anything in his power to delete it, I made a screenshot.

I have also made sure that this hotel is listed as Riad Baraka – The Worst Hotel in The World all over my website with a link to this article.



Joe, be a man, at least for once in your life and stop pressing “problem with this review” button…

He deletes it because he states that I have never stayed there… and tripadvisor team refuses to post my review, even though I send them a booking reference as a proof of my stay at Riad Baraka.. 

The reason they tell me that they deleted my reviews because it wasn’t *Written by actual travelers.


After he deleted my review, this stoned cripple, dared to send me an email and also continued harassing me through tripadvisor message options.

I have blocked him and complained to tripadvisor about this, however, they didn’t do anything.

He send me first email back in October, when I posted my first review. He said “not everything you do or say will make the world shake” …

well, interestingly enough, Dear Joe, Riad Baraka, went down from second place to 5th, after I have posted this article

and as I can see, you are even offering discounted stay at your place now…

so yeah, I guess, you’re right, Joe.


It’s about time someone taught you a lesson – Be Nice To People.  To those people who pay you money and even to those, whom you pay.

Then there was a second email from owner of Riad Baraka – Joe Mccourt…


Joe, darling, you can continue to delete bad reviews of Riad Baraka from all sorts of sites, however, no matter what you do, you will NEVER be able to get rid of this one!

This one is here to stay.

And so are these —



You can’t run away from the truth.

Riad Baraka on tripadisor has only 90 Reviews in 3 years…

( because you have been trying to delete all the bad reviews and write the 5 star ones yourself… I wouldn’t be surprised if you spend some of your pocket money, that your mum gives you for pot, and bribe people for 5 star reviews )

When Joe is really stoned, he shamelessly writes them himself, tries to harass a person who wrote a 1 star review, in all sorts of ways and manipulates tripadvisor in his favor  –


Almost every single time I write a post, I get over 100 comments. Since November 2011, I published 48 articles, with over 7000 comments.

Do the math, Joe.

(although, that would be really hard for your stoned mind to accomplish)

From now on, every time someone google’s Riad Baraka for reviews, they will arrive at this very post… because this website gets a lot of traffic and unfortunate for you, will continue to grow in traffic and subscribers. I will make sure this particular article of mine gets as much exposure as possible.

One last thing, Joe.

I had some nice pictures from the rooftop of Riad Baraka that I shot… it was so hard to choose which one to post.

You know, we, photographers, are so picky sometimes…

so I decided to go with this one … I think the colors and content compliment each other…


Now, don’t you worry, I made sure this jpg. and others, has the name of your place.. that way, they will show up in google when people search for images of Riad Baraka.

Every single time someone re-posts this article to their own subscribers it will go up in google search.

( by the way, huge thank you to all of you who re-posted this! )

Karma is a bitch, Joe.

You can even try to flag images as much as you want, it doesn’t change the fact that in less than a month this article is on the 1st and second pages on google when you search Riad Baraka, Riad Baraka Chefchaouen or Riad Baraka Review.

We don’t want to mislead them, do we now?

( you should also count how many times I have written Riad Baraka in this article and read up on SEO when you’re not getting stoned )

Don’t thank me… it’s my pleasure.




(go cry to tripadvisor about this one, asshole.)



But you know what? There’s always good in the bad…

If the owners of Riad Baraka were nice to me, I would have loved to spend all the rainy days chatting with them about life, but instead I had to go outside and explore.

The darkness is a safe cocoon, from which the light is born…

If you want to get high, you don’t need to spend much money in Chef. All you need to do, is go into one of the local cafes and order some coffee…

Seriously, the air is so heavy from all the hash smokers, that you literally get high…

I sat outside of one of the cafes, watching the life of rainy Chef. pass me by…

And then, I had to question if what I was seeing was a reality or a MAYA …

A blonde girl was trying to find a place to hide from the rain…

Wow! It was Lisa ! I knew, that Life will somehow bring us back to each other.

She joined me and we ordered some more coffee. To be honest with you, it was just an excuse for me to go into the cafe and get high again.

As we were enjoying our coffee, a local musician played music for us. With every note and with every rain drop, time, once again, disappeared into the cloud of sweet cotton.

My mind was light again and nothing mattered.

Lisa asked me; ” Have you ever been to Mandala Restaurant here ? “

No, I haven’t.

She told me that it’s the most geniusly bizarre place on the planet.

After we finished our coffee, Lisa asked some guy how to get there…

When we reached it, I couldn’t believe my eyes.. even from the outside its unreal… The world beats coming from the inside were hypnotic. You can’t help, but follow the sound…

The owner of this place is Italian, who spend 9 years in India and now lives here. He’s an artist and his whole place, is one big orgasm of his beautiful mind.

No, he doesn’t just work here… his Art is his life… If he gets inspired, he quickly sits down at his table and his mind begins to speak.

No, this is not just a restaurant… it’s his home.

We saw a group of Italians here, but other than that the place was empty. One lady was painting something… she came here to be inspired.

He doesn’t care if you stopped by to have some food or to discuss Life’s purpose… He is here for you…

Actually strike that, he’s here for Life itself and you are a part of it.

He doesn’t understand small talk… he doesn’t give a shit.

I like that.

Here, you can have omelette for dinner and hashish for lunch.

He’s name is Giani Uigi, but he asked me to call him GIGI…

To me, he is a genius.

The next two days were spend here… There was no other place I wanted to be.

Lisa felt the same.

The hours turned into seconds and seconds into hours…

Me and Lisa crashed on his couches, listening to music, sharing food and stories. All of us even got to watch Gregory Colbert’s masterpiece ” Ashes & Snow “.

While Gigi was puffing away, Lisa and I got completely lost in the spectacular imagery, words and sounds of Gregory’s work.

Lisa said;  ” You know, Gigi is quite taken by you “

The feeling was mutual.

There was no pretence with Gigi. Either he liked you or he didn’t.

No matter the price, his art was not for sale.

Me and Lisa did ask him many questions about his paintings, the meaning behind his creations and the question everyone wants to know…

” What is the meaning of Life, Gigi ? “

He looked into the distance, beyond the mountains and above the sky, and then said;


Gigi sees life as an illusion.

What do you think, is it?

Every time he looked at me, he sighed and said ” Maya, Maya, Maya ..”

There was no “goodbye”.

When we parted we said ” see you tomorrow ” …

But before I left, Gigi created something for me…

I really wanted a few shots of women in veils against the beautiful blue background, but weather really didn’t want me to get those shots.

Everyone was hiding from rain and there were barely anyone on the streets.

But I did manage to find a very beautiful location…

All I needed now, is for someone to open this fairytale-like door and walk out of it…

Or perhaps someone just passing by…

Nope, there was no one…

All of the sudden the rain stopped. But, there was still not a soul on the street. So I decided to create a moment, instead of just waiting for one…

As it happens, I had a matching color scarf that was given to me as a gift by Patricia Tome. She is a french writer, whom I met in Marrakech.

She said “oh, you’re going to Chefchaouen? I want you to have this. It’s perfect for you!”

I set my camera on a timer, placed it on the nearby wall, covered my curls with this blue scarf and walked to the door…

( note: these shots are not altered in any way, except cropping. The colors would not be the same if it was sunny. )

If you try to google Mandala Restaurant in Chefchaouen, you will be disappointed… There are no images of this place on internet or a tripadvisor page.

The only thing they have is some kind of pizzeria by the same name.

Could this be, that Mandala somehow transformed from a normal eatery into the endless world of Maya?

There is not a single picture of Gigi’s Mandala. Nothing!

Was it even real?

As Lisa and I got in our shared car, en route from Chefchaouen to Tangier.

I couldn’t help but wonder…

If Mandala & Gigi never did exist in this world as we know it…

Could it be that, Maya herself, was our host? …



and then




 The woman behind the words …

” Memories “

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