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EssaouiraArriving in Essaouira, we ended up in tow with some Australians and a Norwegian, and, as the hotel we'd planned to stay in was full, we all rented an apartment together. It turned out to have one of the best views in town, looking out over the town's fortified ramparts to the Atlantic, and at only 500 Dirham (€50) for the seven of us, was a real bargain as well.

Essaouira turned out to be one of the prettiest, laid-back places we had a chance to visit in Morocco, set by the sea, with it's small, winding alleys, and mixture of Portuguese, French, and Berber architecture.

Spurred on by stories of peace, love, and Jimi Hendrix's favourite beach, we set off on the hippy trail for a walk to the village of Diabat, where he allegedly spent some time. It turned out to be an empty, depressing, concrete place with scruffy goats eating rubbish from the bins. Across the road, men were digging up trees from which many of the souvenirs on sale in Essaouira were carved, but with no replanting taking place the entire area was being transformed from forest into sand dunes. We cut across this semi-wasteland to find the famed beach, and it was, indeed, beautiful. Stretching for 10km down the Atlantic coast with fine sand blowing down it's dunes, it was far enough from town to be tourist and tout free - deserted apart from an old man fishing next to his donkey.

After our long walk we retired to Patisserie Driss, a lovely, mosaic tiled cafe with Arabic columns and drug fuelled paintings hanging on the walls - one showed a giant croissant floating high above the town's ramparts. Thanks to it's French history, Morocco's cake culture is as good as anywhere in Europe, and with abundant, freshly-squeezed fruit juices we spent much of our time chilling out in cheap cafes.

Lots of people we met travelling in Morocco fell ill with upset stomachs in Essaouira, and, although we were very careful with what we ate, we were both hit by Moroccan Arse Syndrome there as well. The entire town is often covered in a fine mist from the Atlantic breakers crashing on the rocks below the ramparts. It was only on our last day that we looked out to see a huge slick of untreated sewage discharging into the sea close to the town - maybe shit spray in the air isn't too good for your health?

The False Hedrix in Morocco Claims
Essaouira webcam

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