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Published: April 29th 2009
We leave the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains and head westward toward the windswept Atlantic Coast and the old fishing town of Essaouira, about a 5 hour trip.
The name Essaouira means image, and this is very appropriate since the city has a lot a charm and very distinct and picturesque areas.
We embark on a city tour with a local guide:
The harbor, the beach, the Medina, the souks, and many famous musicians have called this place home for a time, especially in the 60's, from Jimmy Hendrix to the Rolling Stones. They even have an area that they call the “Hippie Place”. Orson Wells has a park named for him as he premiered a movie in the name of Morocco and won an award, the first and only for Morocco.
This town is a seaside resort with wind surfing and a nice swimming beach. Many Moroccans flocks to the sea during the summer months, it's still spring here so the crowds are light.
The harbor has the daily fish market as the fisherman bring in the boats full of fish from the morning catch. The Medina is alive with a mix of modern and traditional
ALWAYS HAVE YOUR PROTECTION IN ORDER
Cannons from Belgium, France and Spain to protect the city
shops and restaurants. The souks have touristy things as well as everyday items for the locals. The smells range from the fish market to the spice markets all in the same area. We go to a local artisan shop where we can see the local woodworking methods with native woods, mainly the Thurya wood. The items are beautiful and many have inlaid work with lemon and mahogany woods. We bought a small hand of Fatima to hang on our Christmas tree how ironic to have a Berber symbol on a Christmas tree. The next stop is the jewelry makers. They have a large showroom of beautiful silver items. This is where Angie finds her hand of Fatima earrings and a beautiful filigree silver ring. Francine buys a beautiful bracelet, and a small hand of Fatima to hang from her ear ring. We continue to the fortress we're we have great views of the ocean.
We have lunch at the harbor with Penny and Ferman(Aussies) at the fish tent lunch area. The deal is one price for all you can eat. That sounds like a good deal but Angie is not a fish eater and Francine finds that the finds
fish is overcooked. Angie tries the prawns, the octopus, squid and scampi, sardines and sole. The sole, prawns and scampi are the ones she is able to eat and enjoy. Francine like the food but a little too burnt from the hot coals to enjoy thoroughly.
Francine and Angie have an afternoon appointment at the Hammam. This is a Moroccan Bath House.
Strictly divided in to separate women's and men's. It is one large open room that has a large trough of heated water that is gathered in buckets to be used. The bath is usually nude or with panties or for the very shy a bra too. The women working in the bath washed us down from head to toes with the local black soap including your hair. A rinse with hot water from buckets and a few minutes of rest on the floor of the bath on very slippery bath mats. The next treatment is the scrub- -this is like having the roughest coarsest sand paper rubbed over every inch of your body even your face. The women here are very strong and we feel that at least 2 layers of skin have been removed. And that
is confirmed when they slap on the mud treatment, because our skin burns for quite a while. The sensation fades probably from us going numb. After letting us cure for several minutes we are asked to stand and they throw buckets of hot water on us to rinse off the mud and once again we are told to lay back on the floor. This next coating is that of the argan oil. This is applied via a massage. Very pleasant but not long enough. After letting that soak in for a few minutes we are given large towels and herded out to the locker room. Our day in the Moroccan Spa has ended with a sigh of amazement, relief and that of relaxation.
For dinner we enjoyed a pizza that was very good and for dessert some ice cream that was just next door. As we were talking and enjoying our gelato 2 young boys selling tissues were very persistent and would not accept our “la shukran” (no thank you). The one boy grabbed my water and began to drink it and I grabbed it back and said “NO”. He took off running, but was back before long still
CATS ARE EVERYWHERE
There are cats absolutely everywhere. They are waiting here for the left overs of the daily catch
persistent this time Penny took the tissues and sat on them, but that only made them want money so she tossed them a short distance away so they took off and retrieved them once again coming to us but this time the boy grabbed one of the strawberries from my ice cream and took off running. I was in shocked that these small boys were so aggressive towards tourists. I complained to the shop and they gathered the boys and talked with them. I can't say for sure but I did notice the shopkeeper having money in her hand but whether or not she paid off the boys I can't say for sure, but they never bothered us again.
Our time here was fun and we enjoyed it very much.
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