Camping on the Beach

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, July 20, 2008

This weekend was the birthday of one of my coworkers, and to celebrate we organized a camping trip to the beach south of Essaouira, close to Sidi Kaouki. We started out by meeting up in Essaouira and going out for drinks and dancing on Friday night. Saturday morning we made our preparations (i.e., sandwiches and cookies) and headed out around noon, driving forty-five minutes to Sidi Kaouki and then walking up the beach towards the rocky point. Halfway up the beach we found the surprise organized for us by the boyfriend of another coworker: a large Berber tent, set up amongst the dunes. We settled into the tent, then without further ado we went to the water and dove into the chilly Atlantic. Mid-afternoon the boys built a fire, and we grilled fresh sardines with onions and tomatoes and ate them piping hot from the flames. Then back to the water to swim again, then back to the shore to laze in the tent. We took a walk down to the rocky part of the beach and climbed the enormous boulders, and we discovered the large sea slugs that frequent the coves. Later, when we met a couple of local children playing catch with one of the slugs in the water, we discovered that the poor things bleed purple. They may even be an alternate source of the famous Roman purple dye. We thought it came from murex, but who knows?

Later in the evening we grilled more sardines, and we sang songs around the fire, trying to find ones that everyone knew. Easier said than done, given that the group was a mix of Americans, Australians, French, and Moroccans, but we managed to come up with a few. Later still we roasted a whole sheep over the fire, after washing it in the ocean and rubbing it liberally with olive oil and cumin. It wasn't ready to eat until 2am when we were mostly half asleep, but those who ate it said it was delicious. (My vegetarian self just watched).

The next morning it was too windy to go swimming again, so we packed our things and walked back to Sidi Kaouki, spending a bit of time in a cute cafe. We drove back to Essaouira, discovered that we were filthy from the sand and wind, and decided that we needed a hammam. So the girls got together and went to the public bathhouse, where we were scrubbed with olive soap and massaged with lava clay, and an hour later we emerged clean and shining and feeling great. Lunch/dinner of crevettes pil-pil (shrimp in spicy tomato sauce) and helpings of fudgy chocolate cake completed the day.
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