EASY BREEZY ESSAOUIRA
pic: Mint tea for two, “shukran” – Sofitel Mogador, Essaouira, April 2013
I’m in Essaouira at the moment, where the seagulls are wearing orange lipstick and the camels might want to get some dental work done, but it’s all about not sweating the small stuff here.
Easy, breezy (err, no – windy!) and bang on the Atlantic coast, Essaouira is the ultimate bad hair day destination and it’s lovely. Nobody cares what you look like or what you do, the swallows spend the afternoons dive bombing the swimming pool, the palm trees just sway all day and the camels just watch the world go by with a sort of “heyho, we’ve seen it all before” expression.
We’ve been so warmth-starved in the UK that a simple thing like waking up and having toast and coffee on a sunny terrace in a T-shirt – instead of a fleece-based anti-fashion furnace of pyjamas, dressing gown, wristwarmers and heat technology slippers – felt like life’s ultimate luxury this morning. [So if you need to get away soon, fly to Marrakech and then drive west, or take the Supratours coach from Marrakech which costs about £7 one way].
A bit too early for coffee but a nice view to wake up to
To your left…
Meet the dreadlock dog who joined me for a verbena tea in the main square leading to the medina.
“Tangle Teezer” springs to mind?
Bit scruffy but he/she was very chilled and he/she joins in when there are impromptu football 5-a-sides in the square
Blue sky 99% of the time unlike somewhere we know/live. This is one of the main squares leading to the medina.
Not ‘hustle-bustle’ at all.
Coffee, Kindle, check emails, ignore emails. All you need here is a bike and WiFi
One of the strawberries I had in Marrakech was “this” big!
Exhausting morning doing nothing, time for a sun-drenched snooze (beige and cream theme with cat and architecture blending well?)
Yes that’s right, we ARE waiting for the tourists to have lunch at the fish restaurants across the road. And??
So you’ve just arrived in Essaouira, but how the heck are you going to find your riad in the car-free medina? Let alone get your suitcase to the hotel? Pas de problem – voila! Elderly men with blue carts who’ll pack your belongings in and wheel them to the front door for about 20 dirhams. When they’re not wheeling you to your riad, they take naps in them.
Next time you think “that Argan oil’s a bit expensive!!” try cracking thousands of argan nuts between your thumb and forefinger. They look like pointy acorns. The shells always split horizontally in two, revealing a (very) small argan “fruit/nut” from which the Argan oil is extracted. I was shocked to hear that a massive heavy sackful makes about one litre of Argan oil. There are lots of women’s Argan product co-operatives on the roads in and out of Essaouira because this is the start of Argan territory which stretches south for another couple of hours (I think?) towards Agadir, then inland. I’d seen the photos on Google but I did really see a goat standing in an Argan tree – hilarious. Argan trees are very spiky and the nuts are mixed in with the spiky branches. Argan oil production, whether it’s for the culinary or cosmetic version of the oil, is incredibly laborious – but it gives these women independence and a way to earn a living. I bought a small bottle of olive oil from one of the co-operatives and it’s delicious, almost sweet, not at all bitter or acidic and way better than even the more expensive olive oils we get in Britain.
If you’re in Essaouira any time soon, pop into the Gnawa Blues Cafe and say hi. It’s within the medina walls, at the entrance near the harbour. I can’t remember his name but it’s run by a charming young musician who’s mad about Gnawa music, speaking of which…
Time for a lunchtime concert! If anyone knows the name of the instrument in the middle, please tell me because it’s amazing how three strings can create so many notes. And note the fabulous cream leather pointy slippers, called babooshkas? There’s a Kate Bush song playing in my head now.
Sellotaped to a window, here’s The History of Football in Essaouira – or rather a book signing at Dar Souiri, where they have a lot of cultural events. What were we all doing on Friday 21 Sept 2012? (Note how the date is written 2000 – 1900, right to left).
So many more photos to take…here’s a side street entering the medina
Remember those elderly men with blue carts? And what’s the mysterious mobile number scrawled on the flaking blue door?
The rather smart Villa Maroc, which started the whole “hotel-riad” trend (according to lots of guides!) Essaouira is all blue and white, just like some of the Greek islands
All the palm trees have different hair styles here but these two are obviously from the same palm tree family tree
Coffee mornings in Essaouira. The simple things in life. 80p for a cafe au lait, 10p for a loaf of bread.
Mogador Island out to sea, at sunset. Odds-on tomorrow will be sunny and the seagulls will still be wearing orange lipstick.