Let's go shopping...
Trip Start Oct 11, 2009
156Trip End Mar 10, 2010
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So we arrived in Essouria about an hour after night fall. We drove along the beachfront road trying to find our campsite which was supposed to be 3km south of town, the directions we had were pretty good but in the dark it didn't really make sense. So I asked a local in my rubbish French where it was, she pointed us back down the road we had just come along… back down again and we spotted the lighthouse which was supposed to be near the camp sight., but we still could not see it, we drove by another 2 times until we realized that it was hidden behind the lighthouse.
The lighthouse itself was pretty odd because it was about 3 or 400m from the ocean and I don’t think it was tall enough to shine over the shrubbery on the sand dunes – very weird
The campsite was clean as were the toilets and showers, in comparison to the site in El Jadida it was heaven.
We were all pretty hungry so we walked about 500m back towards town and into the first place serving food. We had a Beef tarjine with apricots and prunes. It was sooooo delicious!!! and for 80 Dirham (about £7.50) it fed us all. In fact there would have been leftovers if I hadn’t been such a piggy!!! We walked along the beach toward town to let our dinner settle – something I REALLY needed. Then back to the campsite, we would leave discovering the delights of the town till the morning.
Kim and I had both previously been to Essouria, Kim before we met and me last year during a surf trip on a flat day. It is known as the windy city as the afternoon winds are very reliable and perfect for kite boarding and windsurfing, but as with the weather we had been having recently the wind was on ALL day!!
We entered the medina walls ready for a cup of coffee, almost immediately we found the perfect place – a very funky patisserie packed with locals and tourists alike
All souqed out they decided it was time to checkout the hammam that they found in the guide book. They didn’t need towels or mat as everything was provided knickers. No problem would go commando home. So what is a hammam? It is literally a bathhouse for the locals as there is a lack of water in Morocco and also lack of energy/money to heat the water so every town/city no matter what size has at least one hammam and there are set times for men and women as they can not go together. All hammans are tiled (all the floor and up the wall) with soothing low level lighting. You take your own mat to sit on and all your toiletries and they supply the buckets.
As this hammam was one geared more for tourists they provided everything – the mat, the toiletries and the masseuse, who also cleaned you. The hammam cost 180 Dirham (about £15) and for this they got were washed down with buckets of water, covered in gommage (like a honey/gel) which softens the skin, this was then removed by a deep scrubbing from the masseuse – this removes several layers of skin!!
Meanwhile I had had enough of internet and since the girls had not showed I decided to head back to Scoobs. The girls showed up a few hours later and would not shut up about how good the hammam was and how smooth and soft their skin was - it did sound pretty decadent. As it was my birthday tomorrow Val had decided to give Kim and me some space and planned on spending the night in a Riad – a local style B&B set in a traditional house set around a courtyard. They had found it during their meanderings through the medina. Very thoughtful Val!!
We were all hungry again and we enjoyed dinner so much the night before we decided to go back to the same place. The Morrocan’s eat late and the sun was only just setting he restaurant didn’t open till 7pm still 45mins away to we walked a little further and found a bar serving alcoholic drink – WOW! Prices were similar to those in London, but that is not surprising considering how hard it is to buy alcohol here
Dinner was just as good as the night before, this time we tried the lamb tarjine with peas and olives. It was excellent. Just like the night before the meat just fell apart. We all agreed that the beef was probably the better of the 2 dishes though. We had also found out something vital about ordering food in Morocco - generally you need to give them 24hrs notice to prepare cous cous with vegetables… I thought it was one of their staples – it is certainly delicious and goes perfectly with a tajine dish. Also, it only takes 10min to prepare at home so I am at a loss as to why they need 24hrs notice – Weird!!
It’s my birthday today, I’m not big on celebrating it though, I don’t really see the point, it’s just another day to me. Kim gets a bit annoyed at this as she loves any excuse to celebrate… and likes giving and receiving presents. I figure we are travelling all over the place and are on an extended holiday so that is present enough for me
After a wee sleep in we walked in to town to meet Val at her Riad. She had had a great sleep and had already finished her breakfast on the roof terrace by the time we arrived. Kim and I had not eaten so we went back to the cute patisserie for pastries and coffee.
We took some photos at the port before hitting the souk for some bargaining. We followed the ramparts around to where the woodworkers sold their wares. Val bought a domino’s set and some little jewellery boxes and Kim and I got a beautiful 25cm square walnut box with ebony and mother-of-pearl inlay. The workmanship was top notch and I’m sure I could have bargained the price down another 5 or 10 pound but at £60 for the lot we were happy, it would have cost tonnes more at home. Then on to where all the woven good were sold. Val bought 3 footrest cushions and we got a large woollen throw rug / wall hanging. Just as we finished shopping it started to rain so we ducked into a little tea house and by the time we finished our mint teas the sky’s had cleared.
It was now time to move on so we caught a taxi back to the camp and set off for Marrakesh. It was supposed to be a relatively easy 160km drive. This was quickly proved to be incorrect as they were widening the road and the first 130km was non-stop road works and the speed limit was between 20 and 60 km, so the easy drive became quite laborious. When there was some reasonable road the speed limit was still very restrictive and there was invariably a policemen sitting there waiting for someone to break the limit so they could make a bit of extra baksheesh. Luckily for us a new toll way had opened – it was not marked on our map – and so we are able to take this for the final 40 km. What was not so lucky was since we did not have this new road on our map we did not know which side of Marrakesh we were entering from and so it took us a little while to find our campground.