As I had a great night’s sleep (thank you ambien) and a whole day ahead of me that promised to not involve sitting in a van at all, I was very happy. The tour company had offered the option of wind surfing/kite surfing if it was windy that day or kayaking if it wasn’t. It wasn’t windy but only one person wanted to kayak. I think the rest wanted to vegetate and shop.
A small group of us wandered around Essaouira, which is quite small when compared with Marrakesh and Fes, doing occasional shopping and photo-taking. There was an area outside the medina where you could walk on the beach and take good photos of the port, but to do so you had to walk through some massive fish markets and the smell was horrendous. I opted to return to the city and wander around some more instead. Though I had done bits and pieces of shopping in Fes and Marrakesh, since Essaouira was our last stop, it is where I did most of my gift shopping. I did some good basket shopping for various relatives, and bought some wood pieces which in are what Essaouira specializes. I also had bought a piece of tourist-trade art in every country I had been in, so I picked up a really cool piece of Berber art while here.
Basket shopping was actually quite fun which I’ll describe a bit. In Marrakesh I’d gotten some “every day” baskets that locals use for bread (basket tagines and bowls). But in Essaouira i was only seeing tourist-type baskets. Big rectangular things or baskets made to hold wine bottles. I am not a basket expert like my mom and her sister, but I know enough to know I wasn’t seeing “the good stuff.” Eventually I asked a guy at a basket place where the ‘good’ baskets were and he sent me to the spice market areas and told me to look in the back of the spice market stalls. That was pure gold. There were great baskets there and I picked up a really big one for my mom and a carrying basket for me. I then went back to the guy who gave me the directions and I bought a couple of things from him as thanks.
Today was the last day of the tour, as D was leaving that afternoon and the next day would be spent 100% in the van, driving to drop some people off in Marrakesh, Casablanca, or Fes as necessary (you can drive to all three cities in one day if sufficiently motivated). A large group was getting together to eat the final night in a noted fish place, but some of us a) wanted to escape the crowd and b) didn’t want to eat fish, so we went to another place that J, W, and D had discovered the night before. In the end about 8 of us went, and was fabulous and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Essaouira: Elizer (pronounced “Elixer”). This restaurant was excellent by western standards, which means when faced with the challenges of having a restaurant in somewhere like Essaouira, it is all the more impressive. I had steak in balsamic vinegar sauce, lots of people had the daily special fish (dorado?) and a few people had great pasta dishes. The deserts were also spectacular. It was a nice way to end the offical tour.
Tags: Africa, Essaouira, Morocco, Travel