Essaouira, Morocco, October 10 - 11, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

If Marrakech is the pink city, Essaouira is a blinding white one, although its colorful trims and stone fortifications add flourished that reflect its history as a coastal town under Portuguese domination for several centuries.  With its busy fishing port, stone fortifications, sandy bayside beaches, and a mazelike Medina within the city walls, Essaouira is absolutely lovely.  Firmly a stop on the hippie trail 30 to 40 years ago, Essaouira is now popular with artists, retirees, and well-off French people, as well as the hippies' backpacker successors like myself.  Essaouira's breezy location and mix of rocky headlands and sandy beaches make it a favorite for surfers and wind surfers too.
Our campsite was located along the beach a few miles south of town, a distance that looked enormous as I looked toward Essaouira from the beach but one that actually took only about 40 minutes to walk.  I spent two afternoons and evenings in Essaouira and a morning hanging out on the beach.  Although Essaouira is pretty, has a good variety of boutiques, and is pleasant to walk around, besides the fishing port there's little to see or do besides eating seafood. 
I was walking through the medina's busy street one evening just as the dusk prayer call began to take place.  Suddenly everyone was running through the streets at a speed that would make you think it an air raid siren rather than the prayer call to break the daily  Ramadan feast.  After about three minutes of chaotic scramble in the streets, they suddenly became deserted save for a few tourists and stray cats.  As far as I'm aware, though, the rush if only one to be able to eat and drink again after the day's fast during Ramadan, not a religious requirement to be home by dusk as observant Jews must do for their Sabbath. 
A few hours later I had my dinner at Bab Laachour, a rare alcohol-serving restaurant with rooftop views of the main square (Place Moulay Hassan) and the seascape.  I couldn't help but notice the table beside me and the young Moroccan tour leader dining with his tour group of rather dense Australians who felt the need to educate him about Australia as they gradually became drunker.  Almost every sentence of theirs began, "In Sydney.......:" or "In Australia.................."  I don't quite understand why people who are traveling are so inclined to talk about home.  The conversation brought back memories of my stint as a trip leader in Egypt and Jordan, and I felt a little sorry for the tour leader enduring the same repetitive conversations of which I eventually got so tired.  My dinner was a three course seafood extravaganza of Fish Soup, Grilled Sardines, and Fish Tagine, all pretty good but no bargain.  I tried to burn off some of the calories by speed walking back to the campground.

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