Essaouira is quite literally a breathe of fresh air after Marrekech. Due to it’s geographic location, the trade winds sweep across the coastline making it a haven for wind and kitesurfers. According to our host in summer the winds average 30 knots everyday. You can feel the wind even inside the Medina but it’s a warm wind that welcomes us.
Our riad is gorgeous with a lovely traditional interior with a modern twist and located right in the heart of the Medina which is a calm oasis in comparison to the frenetic pace of Marrakesh. We are even able to walk into a shop and browse the different products freely without fear of owning the shop.
It’s certainly a man’s world where the cafe fronts are lined with men drinking coffee – they don’t appear to socialise with the woman in Morocco. It’s not that women are hidden in the house, it’s just that it’s rare to see them interacting with their men in the streets.
For our first evening, we just wander the streets and eat at at a traditional restaurant. Traditional menus consist of soup or tomato salad for entree, tagine, pastille or couscous for main and yogurt or fruit for dessert which are all delicious however on the specials board I note the word “dromedaire” and I suddenly feel glad we didn’t ask for the special.
Every spice shop offers normal and turbo viagra – it appears to be the local specialty. They also have beautiful art here and some gorgeous cafes with some beautiful interiors and I am suitably impressed. For our lunch on the second day we stumble across this absolute star of a restaurant in a back alley called Triskala. For the first time we taste the spice of Morocco that has obviously been toned down for the tourists elsewhere and it’s delicious.
The highlight or eye opener of our time in Essaouira however was the local flea market that takes place just outside the city walls on a Sunday morning. If it’s not here – it doesn’t exist. Apparently the local villagers come to town with their wares to sell and it’s huge and it’s crazy and intense.
The Susanne Paul of Morocco.
We are told that the ports are a great tourist attraction so we head out in the afternoon. The sea is calm today but we feel this is not always the way and the solid construction of the boats seems to confirm this. It’s a heaving sprawl of fish, nets and boats and my stomach heaves a little as well. I think I will be sticking to the vegetable tagines from now on.
Afterwards we take a stroll along the beach where fully dressed Moroccans sunbathe and share a family picnic. In the distance we see camels walking in the surf and it really is a very pretty area.
We have actually thoroughly enjoyed our time in Essaouira and wished that we had stayed longer however we simply don’t have the time so we head back to the bus for our scenic tour of the countryside back to Marrekech.
That’s when you truly see the Moroccan way of life. Shepards guarding their goats and sheep, children walking to school on the highway, high rise buildings grow out of the dirt in the middle of nowhere that appear half finished, donkeys parked in the “carparks”, and wrecks of cars being driven in the streets. It’s a crazy crazy life here in Morocco.