a day at the beach
21.09.2017 24 °C
Our accommodation for this town is in a converted riad - a home with an inner courtyard & fountain. Lovely decor - all the rooms were slightly different - but quite luxurious in appearance. After breakfast in the courtyard, we met our lovely, well-educated guide Rashida who took us on a tour to the harbour area of Essaouira. This is an historic fishing town (ALSO a UNESCO World Heritage site! - not expecting that) and we saw the boats back into the harbour with the early morning catch. There was a wall where men - often former fishermen - were cleaning the fish, bins filled with fish sorted by type, and lots of seagulls.
In that section was also a kasbah - the fortress for the protection of the city and the Tolerance Gate. Essaouria was settled by Jewish, Portuguese and Arabs so this gate has a Star of David, Christian shell of Santiago and the crescent moons of the Muslim faith. This represents a place where everyone is expected to get along.
Again and in keeping with preserving handcrafts in Morocco, we visited an Artisanal Silver cooperative. In this shop, they train apprentices to work in silver - filigree, rings, bracelets, pendants, earrings. And of course, shopping afterwards!! A number of us bought some of the beautiful pieces to bring home.
Next stop - the fish market! It’s a pretty raucous area with the vendors selling the day’s catch to restaurants, locals & visitors. Our littlest lady Abby teased our chef Rob with a prawn!! We purchased three types of fish - sea bass, bream and one other which Hamid took to a local place where they grilled it! Talk about Fresh! I was expecting that and it was wonderful.
After lunch we had a free afternoon. I had hoped to take advantage of the water and rent a stand-up paddle board but when you see kite surfers in the crazy wind, paddle boarding isn’t really a viable alternative. So we went CAMEL RIDING instead. Was NOT expecting that!
Maxine had asked Hamid if the animals were healthy & well-treated beforehand so we took the walk down the beach to the camels. After a bit of haggling over the price, we each got onto our own camel for an hour-long walk. Our camel handler was lovely - he took photos of us on both our phones and led the beasts up & down some small sand dunes. He even managed a few shots that made us look like we were in the Sahara!
We just kept giggling the whole time - ‘we’re on a beach, in Morocco, riding camels!’ Just lovely and something I wasn’t expecting to do.
Back into town we did a little shopping, cleaned some beach sand off us and then went to dinner with our group. Instead of seafood, I had a lovely couscous meal with beef and a raisin sauce. Might have been a free night but we went to dinner to celebrate another birthday - for sweet Chandrika from Chicago. Yay cake!!! (we could really see the influence of the French occupation in Morocco - their ‘patisserie’ cakes are light and not too sweet.)
Again, we had a menu choice with lots of seafood or other dishes. I chose a couscous dish with beef, chickpeas & a sweet raisin/lemon sauce - mmmmm. And again, Berber musicians along with the lovely restaurant servers (the owners i think) made it a party. Hamid and a guide with another group sure enjoyed the music - it was really fun to watch them dancing.
Back at the riad we chilled with some wine before calling it a night.