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.
ONE OF THE BETTER GALLERIES IN TOWN
ENJOYABLE IMITATION POLLACK Only $350.
YET ANOTHER AGREEABLE ENTRY
HAZY LAZY DAY
ESSAOUIRA FISHING PORT
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.
$3.00 WORTH OF FRUIT
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.
THE LITTLE BACKWATER OF DIABAT AWAITS