After a brief stopover in Marrakesh, we made our way to the lovely coastal town of Essaouira. Located on the West Atlantic coast of Morocco, Essaouira sits between Casablanca & Agadir.
Known for its relaxed atmosphere, it was a perfect place to unwind for a few days.
Enroute from Marrakesh to Essaouira, we passed through valleys filled with Argan trees, famous for their Argan oil, valued for its nutritive, cosmetic & medicinal value.
As Driss (our guide) was telling us about this region, he explained that goats are often found up in the Argan trees, feeding off of the fleshy fruit produced, called drupes.
Clearly these goats were staged along the roadside for the benefit of tourists, but they were so funny nonetheless, & definitely worthy of a stop for a photo.
Along the way, we were given the opportunity to stop at one of the Womens’ Cooperatives, this particular one related to the production of Argan Oil products. There are a number of different cooperatives in Morocco, an initiative developed to give women work & establish their own income.
Inside the drupe is a kernel, inside the kernel are the seeds, which are used to produce the oil. Using a stone to break open the nut like kernel, it is a long & labour intensive process to expose the seeds inside.
The seeds are then are placed into a press, seen in the picture to the left, extracting the oil from the seed. It takes approximately 30kg of fruit to produce 1 litre of oil. It is no wonder it is so expensive!
Armed with the knowledge of the benefits of how the oil assists in maintaining youthful skin, healthy hair & a plethora of other good things, we departed with many purchases in hand, dreaming of looking a wee bit younger!
Once again, we were not disappointed in our accommodations.
After settling in, we set out to explore the souks in the medina & the port of Essaouira.
It is important to note that once you enter into negotiation, the expectation is that you will make a purchase, at the very least with the offer you originally made.
If the vendor is not willing to sell at that price & you cannot come to an agreement, it is okay to walk away.
As Canadians, we are unaccustomed to bartering & often felt completely overwhelmed when attempting to making a purchase.
Part of our challenge was that often, we did not know what a fair value was for the intended purchase. This is especially true when it came to carpets.
Many attempts were made on our part, but quite honestly, we found the process exhausting.
If you make eye contact or express interest, you will most likely be escorted inside.
Moroccans delight in inviting you into their shops, throwing down carpet after carpet while you sip on mint tea, hoping for your approval & eventual purchase. This process can take hours, thus you should never be in a hurry!
The souks located in the medina are colourful & varied in their choices. Perhaps you would like some shoes or Viagra Express pour Femme?
We were only too happy to welcome his fun & interesting commentary from a local’s perspective.
*Cultural note: If you are approached & offered a service of any sort, it is expected that a tip or fee will be given in return. It is simply the culture.
He explained to us that the boats in the photo below are used for catching sharks. We were stunned to think of a shark flopping around in one of these boats, out on the Atlantic ocean. Fishermen may find themselves out for a number of days in these boats, not wanting to return until they are successful in their catch.
This beautiful cat caught my eye. He looked like he was king of the port, stretched out relaxing in the sun, patiently waiting for some scraps from the fish being cleaned behind him.
So many scenes caught my eye in this beautiful coastal town. This gentleman seemed to taking a moment to rest. Perhaps he was like most husbands, waiting for their wife to finish shopping!
Essaouira is bursting with seafood. Although I am not really a fan of seafood myself, I couldn’t help but be fascinated with the variation offered fresh for your choosing.
Fresh catches are presented all along the port area, encouraging passers-by to select what appeals to their appetite.
After dining in the open sea air on our fresh catch, we took a walk to the beach before returning to our Riad.
If you ever find yourself in Marrakesh for any length of time, I would highly recommend a venture out to the seaside.
Next & final stop on our tour….Marrakesh!