MOROCCO: Essaouira – Morocco’s Seattle

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

To say that Essaouira is an improvement over Marrakech would be a statement of the bleeding obvious. Although one is not besieged constantly by a series of touts and scammers, there are plenty of annoying panhandlers, and less aggressive shopkeepers who still maintain their perfect record of dishonest business practices.

At any given time there is a parade of variously afflicted people on the main promenade who look like they came out of central casting of “The Walking Dead”. I saw a guy dressed in some sort of shabby naval uniform who just stood there drooling, and I have never seen so much dental degradation in all of my born days. You would think that this country is unaware of the invention of the toothbrush. They seem to be able to destroy their teeth and gums with impunity through neglect and cigarettes, but still can’t be bothered to brush. Toothpaste and brushes are very cheap, and could probably be gotten for the equivalent of seven cigarettes.

My cellphone became the latest casualty of my Moroccan Misadventure. I dropped it at an outdoor rest stop on the way here, and because the ground was covered with large gravel, my smartphone screen was destroyed. Fortunately, I found a place in town would repair it in six hours and was pleased to get this sorted out, but when I returned the proprietor claimed that the price was only for the glass and that the labor was an additional $15 even though I had a written receipt for my phone with the price of $70 for the entire repair. Typical, but he was a pleasant chap, and regardless of the deception it was a fair price.

At least I am in a nice Riad where the employees don’t run around chain smoking like the previous place in Marrakech. I’ll go check out Jimi Hendrix’ house, chill out for a few days and move on to Casablanca for a stay in a luxury hotel. That will probably be my only splurge in a four-star hotel this year, but the price is right at $85 a night. Actually, the $50 hotel in Tunisia was amazing, and it did provide a refuge from the third world grime and poverty. I’m mixing it up nicely this year, and have managed to avoid staying in an excess of dorm rooms in hostels.

MEDINA MAIN STREET – Those little carts are luggage transports.

RIAD SIDI MAGDOUL – Cute, comfortable & chill place to stay.

Not bad for $25 a night.

HSAM – Helping the Street Animals of Morocco

OFFICIAL T-SHIRT – A couple of Brits come here twice a year to help out with the problem. Some dental hygienists need to come here and hand out toothbrushes to the chain-smoking Morrocan guys as well.

CAFÉ DES ARTS – Live music, good food, no crowd. A welcome respite.

CHEERFUL FISHMONGER – It’s lunchtime and I walked into the fish market a bought that big piece of swordfish lying on the carcass for $4.00. There’s enough there for two $20 portions in the states. In fact I saved half for later. Adjacent to the market is a place that cooks your fish for less than a dollar. Today I bought a Jimi Hendrix album on iTunes and got my groove on through the alleyways and streets of Essaouira. I got the usual smile back on my face which had been wiped clean off in Marrakech.

They offer a variety of fish including large eels and stingray.

A little entertainment to go with the fish that was so much that I couldn’t finish it so I took it to go. The next day I ran into the HSAM(Helping the Street Animals of Morocco) ladies who were helping out the cats so I went back to my Riad and got the fish for the felines. I’m sure they thoroughly enjoyed their perfectly grilled swordfish.








The guy on the bike is pointing at me with his middle finger, but I am unaware of the meaning of the gesture if there is any at all.



LAMB TAJINE – My bubbling dinner the night before the picture below was taken. I went back for lunch the next day.

LA TOLERANCE –  My favorite restaurant so far in Morocco was also the best value. I had the camel tajine today, and it was much better than the one I had in Marrakech for less money as well. What started out as a descent into the tenth ring of Hell, is turning out to be a relatively pleasant little Moroccan adventure. To celebrate, I bought a football (soccerball) and tossed it to the first couple of kids I ran into. They seemed pleased.



CARAVANE CAFÉ – An Entertaining Upscale Dining Experience -Fun With Fire

I was reading a book on my iPad, and looked up and saw Charlie Chaplin peeking around a guy doing card tricks. The food was also delicious since the owner was an elegant Frenchman with a cultivated palate and a strong attention to detail.

Even after the players leave the stage and the dinner is done, you are left with Essaouira’s most artistically decorated restaurant interior that I have encountered thus far. The Caravane Cafe is a complete feast for the senses, and quite a surprise if you just stumbled in expecting to be fed.

SAND PEOPLE – Ever felt like George Lucas borrowed a lot of stuff from planet Earth for his Star Wars franchise. Tell me that the guy walking down the street doesn’t look like one of the sand people, and let’s not forget that hive of scum and villainy, Mos Eisley, that bears such a striking resemblance to souks of Marrakech.

Jabba the Hutt’s just a giant slug. Chewbacca is just a canine hominid. I could go on, but I think you get the point that Star Wars is a highly derivative cinematic venture, and cannot really be taken seriously in it’s attempts at creating truly original alien lifeforms in the science fiction oeuvre. It certainly can’t hold a candle to the originality and terrifying nature of the alien in “Alien”. Of course I’ll give you that Lucas’ Jar Jar Binks is one of the most truly horrifying creatures in cinematic history. I guess my Trek is beginning to show.

Today begins the two and a half mile pilgrimage to the house of Jimi Hendrix in a little town called Diabat.




Morocco’s love of alternative facts was not lost upon the Jimi Hendrix Cafe whose proprietor proceeded to tell me that Hendrix had stayed there for two nights back in ’69 thus shooting down the idea that he had owned a home in Essaouira. I stayed for lunch which was as awful as the lies that the owner had just told me. The water damaged photos of Hendrix, the fabricated stories, and the uninspired murals dishonoring one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time continues to build a strong case against Morocco and its inhabitants. Perhaps I’m letting this all get a little too far under my skin. I’m sorry but I just hate liars, and with all of the lies that orange faced idiot spews back in the States, I have no tolerance left for duplicity.

You mean to tell me in all of Essaouira, a town known for competent artists, they couldn’t find somebody to paint a reasonable likeness of Jimi Hendrix? Good Lord, the top one looks like James Brown back in the 80’s when he was having trouble with PCP, and the bottom probably was what Jimi saw in the mirror during a bad experience with purple haze.

Okay maybe he visited the place when it was called Chez Hoceine, but he didn’t sleep here because I stopped by the Jimi Hendrix Hotel up the street and the owner gave me the supposed facts. Hendrix never owned a home here but stayed in the area for a total of three nights. One night was spent in the Riad Al Madina in Essaouira, and two nights in the ruins of the Bordj El Berod in Diabat.

Hold the presses. As it turns out Hendrix never set foot in Diabat! He never left Essaouira. It seems many hippies have visited here to trace the footsteps of Hendrix only to be drawn into the same quicksand of questionable history and lies that I have encountered. Even heavily researched articles on the internet say as much. Stay tuned as I try and get to the bottom of this mess.

BORDJ EL BEROD – Early 18th. Century – Reclaimed By the Sands

At least it wasn’t a complete waste of time and got me out for a walk and a mini adventure.

Legend has it that Hendrix supposedly spent the whole day here drinking, smoking hash, and writing the song “Castles Made of Sand” which had been recorded 18 months before. He must have gone back in time for that.

Jimi was also said to have fathered children here which is also part of the extensive mythology. Still, think the Bible is accurate? He visited in July of 1969, and they can’t get the facts straight on that. Imagine how much has gotten distorted over 2000 years.

At least I didn’t have to do the dusty walk all the way back to Essaouira. A nice guy in an SUV gave me a lift.

So I took the money I would have spent on a cab and treated these kids to a ride in these electric vehicles. It’s fun to watch children’s eyes light up when they get a surprise out of the blue.

LA TOLÉRANCE – Last night at my favorite little place in Essaouira. I talked with the owner and found out the name of the place where Hendrix supposedly stayed so I could get my photos to put the lid on this little adventure. It is supposedly Riad Al Madina which is only two minutes away.

The super nice musician who plays here nightly. Everyone here is nice. I didn’t meet the cook, but he treated my stomach well.

RIAD AL MADINA – Although a very nice hotel, it turns out Hendrix didn’t stay here either. The hosts have been known to tell numerous guests that they all are all staying in the same room that Jimi did. I’m sure if the hotel was as it is now back in 1969 that the legendary guitarist would have had no problem staying here, but that is beside the point. Because he didn’t.

Nice door even though as an entry in the history of Jimi’s Essaouira lodging, it’s bullshit. The locals never let the truth get in the way of a good story though. There is so much smoke and mirrors that nobody around here seems to know which way is up anymore. It’s kind of like what going on with Trump & Co. in Washington, D.C. right about now. Like Jake Tapper, I refuse to give up even though it’s 1:30 am, I have yet to get packed and I leave for Casablanca in the morning. I will get to the bottom of this!

Back in the day, there weren’t very many places to stay that would have been suited to an international sensation who was actually just on vacation. Jimi didn’t even bring a guitar with him. He just brought his girlfriend, Collette Mimram, and took up residence in the largest and most luxurious hotel of the time which just so happened to be the “Hotel Des Isles” just outside the city walls and steps from the beach. Just hang a left where those two people are walking and walk through the archway through the city walls. Go 100 meters and it’s on the left.

HOTEL DES ISLES – My Hendrix pilgrimage is now complete.


One last stroll through the calm streets, devoid of the walking dead and endless panhandlers. Every now and again you hear the rustle of a cat fishing through a garbage can or the caterwauling of trash vultures (seagulls) battling over scraps, but it’s a peaceful contrast to the cacophony of the daytime gauntlet. I will sleep well after putting the Jimi Hendrix myth to bed. May he rest in peace. It’s a shame he left us so soon.


  1. Jason
    May 18, 2017

    Looks like things are looking up! My advice; avoid hordes.

  2. The Travel Zealot
    May 18, 2017

    Point well taken Jason,
    I was unaware of the hordes of Marrakech due to my lax research. I’ll avoid making that mistake again. I was lulled into a false sense of security by that goddamn song. Ha Ha! Now I’m just groovin’ down the streets listening to Hendrix, and tracing his footsteps.

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