Our hotel dining room is high above the city walls and from the terrace and windows we were able to see an expansive panorama of the sea and a beach. All night we had heard the sounds of the ocean, not realising we are quite literally at the waters edge. Essouria’s old Medina is built behind a port/fortification on a promontory surrounded by rocks and bordered on both sides with huge flat beaches. Unfortunately the sky was overcast so all was rather grey and dull.
We all ventured out independently for a change. It was so relaxing to wander this Medina. There was a more relaxed ambiance and the lanes were a little wider. Anne and I found our way to the port where masses of seagulls wheeled overhead. I noticed there was not the same amount of squawking our Pacific gulls make. These birds were huge and probably well fed judging by the size of the squid one was eating!
There were dozens of blue fishing boats tied together in little protected harbours or onshore receiving maintenance. We wondered how you would get out from the centre of the mass if that was your boat.
Anne and I continued down to the beach where kids were playing soccer and groups of women were strolling around with small children in tow.
Returning to the Medina we found the shops and lanes were all bustling with people. Moroccan cafes are mostly for men, smoke filled and grubby, so sitting down for coffee is not quite as easy as we find in other countries. We found a place that was not trendy but there were a few other tourists so we didn’t feel too odd. The waiter was very pleasant and helpful, and though the toilet was clean the door didn’t lock and was minuscule. We stood guard for each other.
I loved the herbal/ pharmacy shops. They certainly had some interesting products. I love the fact that the Moroccans don’t care about juxtaposing different products. The butcher the fruiterer, and the dress shop.
Ridouane met us for lunch and we had fish tagine in a very authentic restaurant but decided to go to the Mega loft for dinner. This was a very trendy place serving modern Moroccan food. We recommended it to Ridouane for further groups. He was conscious that we had been eating traditional Moroccan food for two weeks and we had a running joke about Chickens. This is a common ingredient for tagines and Ridouane’s favourite. Ross said that if a chicken stopped laying eggs you put a lemon beside it and it knew that it was for the pot if it didn’t start laying again!
This quirky place really appealed and the food lived up to our expectations. Anne and I came across a holy man and his entourage. One of them had a pole onto which people were tying scarves and socks for healing. There was such a press even the locals were taking photos. There was a procession of musicians as well making a great clamour. It was quite exciting, though I did think it was an ideal time for pick pockets! No such calamity occurred.
Our final experience was the Hammam. Wow. Bill and Irene had a couples experience. Anne, Mary and I undressed to our skin and and were taken into a hot tiled room where we were sluiced with hot water, soaped then sluiced again. Next we were rubbed over with argon oil and told to turn over. I felt like a suckling pig in danger of falling of the spit! We were exfoliated vigorously, sluiced again, oiled again, then rubbed with sand and left to broil for ten minutes, then sluiced again. By now we were very warm, hearts pounding and with a final sluice we then went for a massage. Heaven is a Hammam. Mary promptly checked google for one in Melbourne. The price at home was about $300. Here we paid $75! But we do have them!
We were all very relaxed to say the least and Anne found subsequently that the argon oil did make her hair very soft, just like the sales lady told her!
Next stop Marrakech our last town.