Tuesday, March 1, 2016


January 26-27, 2016

We left Marrakesh in the morning, catching a bus for the 3-hour ride to Essaouira, a pretty blue-and-white fishing village on the Atlantic coast and a Unesco World Heritage site. The road crossed an arid plain, dotted with sheep and goats.

Occasionally, groves of argan or olive trees broke the monotony. Both are harvested for oil, although argan is used more for cosmetics than cooking.

We stopped briefly at a roadside cafe where I noticed the street was lined with eucalyptus trees, one of Australia's gifts to the world.

Essaouira has a reputation in winter for stormy seas and wild onshore gales, but during our stay all was calm and sunny. It is a white-walled town where doors, window frames and even the fishing boats are painted in turquoise or deep sky-blue.

Clothing too was dyed in vivid colours.

We stayed at the Riad Nakhla, a comfortable small hotel in the centre of town. Our ensuite room was also small, just enough space for the bed at one end and a sofa at the other, but it was attractively decorated and furnished.

Even the tiny bathroom had carefully chosen details.

As the windows opened onto the central atrium, we were inclined to keep them closed for security reasons. We spent more time anyway on the roof terrace with its lovely views.

This is also where breakfast was served.

It was so delicious that it attracted other interested parties who expected us to share the honey.

The main street was thronged with a mixture of locals and tourists, but much less frenetic than Marrakesh (see previous post.)

One end leads south down to the picturesque harbour where fishing boats cluster inside the old walls and seagulls wheel and cry overhead.

Everywhere another colourful scene demanded yet another photograph.

Not everyone was focused on the fishboats, however. The seawall was a popular place for sun lovers and dreamers,

 ... while improvements along the beach front involving earth-moving equipment attracted the usual sidewalk superintendents.

Behind the harbour I discovered more Australian imports, this time Norfolk Island pines.

Lurking among them was this palm tree.

Look closely and you'll see that it's actually a brilliant way to disguise a cellphone tower. Wouldn't it be an improvement if cities around the world adapted this innovative idea to their own environments?

At the north of the main street a cobbled ramp led up to the old ramparts, still equipped with cannons that once guarded against marauders from the Atlantic and now attract small boys and tourists with selfie sticks.

Along with the seagulls, Essaouira had its complement of well-fed cats, enjoying the sunshine or lurking in the shade.

After two lovely days here, we boarded the bus back to Marrakesh, but not to stay. Our destination was the grand railway station where we were boarding the overnight train to Tangier.

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