I’m just going to start with the diverse things I saw, heard, and experienced today:
- Our private driver, Khalid, took Phil and I on yet another excursion today, this time headed to Essaouira (pronounced ess-oh-where-uh). Often referred to as “the beach,” it’s located on the south cost of Morocco. If yesterday was filled with lush green growth, today was its polar opposite. Think the North Dakota badlands, with a lot of gold and peach colored rolling hills, but with terrain that was really rocky. It was a beautiful two-hour drive out.Goats in argan trees
- Dog #1 barking and then leaping at our car as we drove by. Never mind we were going about 60 mph at the time.
- A family of four on a mo-ped
- Cats laying in the middle of the street, never flinching when a bike or person zips right by them
- A donkey-drawn carriage sharing the freeway with cars
- “Would you like a hash cake?”
- Dog #2 chasing a dude on a mo-ped
- Getting shit on by a seagull as I was about to enjoy my lunch
- Rush hour traffic that included the following road competitors: cars, pedestrians, bicycles, mo-peds, donkey-drawn carts
- Uncomfortable cat calls
- Camels grazing up in sand dunes
- Bocadillos and harira in the medina
- More shopping, less bartering
- Walking the beach barefoot
- Marrakech’s “new city”
Once we got to Essaouira, we did a lot of walking through the medina, around the sea port, and along the beach. I was pretty excited about one purchase, a lapiz ring. I’ve been looking for a ring with this stone (that I like) for nearly 10 years. And I of course got an amazing price for it. Things cost less in Essaouira and the vendors aren’t as nearly as pushy, which is obviously very nice. We had a nice lunch of grilled sea bass and prawns (where a seagull shat on me) before taking a long walk down the beach. We saw some camels grazing in sand dunes while on our walk. When we got closer to them, we noticed there was a baby with them, which was cool to see. On our way back on our beach stroll, a guy approached us as we were putting on our shoes and asked us if we wanted a hash cake. We giggled and politely declined. There were a lot of surfer dudes and hippies in Essaouira. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was a bit.
I have to say that I think the bird shitting on me was good luck for my brother. When we stopped at a cash machine, he realized his check card was gone. He was understandably irritated and the thought of it in someone else’s hands were weighing on him. Once Khalid picked us up, we checked between the seats and saw his card there! Whew!
Admittedly, I was a bit uncomfortable today. Between my height, blonde hair, and blue eyes, I stick out. My brother has noticed the many looks and comments I’ve been attracting these past couple days, but today was the first time I really felt uncomfortable about it. The inadvertently white see-through top didn’t help matters for me, either. So I bought another scarf while perusing the medina at the beach. It seemed to help a bit. In general, I’ve felt very safe in Morocco. I’ve made a point to stay pretty covered up, not showing too much skin. The women who don’t do get gawked at. The only way I can describe personal space here is that it’s different compared to any place I’ve ever been. While people may get close to you physically, it’s rare for a person to touch you, even bump into you.
Since today was our last night in Morocco, we headed to the medina again. With it being a Friday night, there was a lot more hustle and bustle compared to the other nights. We stocked up on olives and nuts to take home. We were also on a quest to try bocadillos and harira, which we were told the locals eat. Harira is a tomato-based vegetarian soup that has chickpeas in it. The Moroccan version of the bocadillo includes: Traditional bocadillo roll, small boiled potato, small boiled egg, cheese (like Babybel), argan oil (obviously, the consumable kind), spicy chile sauce (like Sriracha), salt, pepper, coriander. Both were amazing and left our bellies pleasantly full! What may have been even better is that the very big sandwich and two bowls of soup only cost us 14 dirham, which is about $1.50.
“Fire” is quickly coming to an end. We have less than one full day left in Morocco. Tomorrow’s plan is to stay in the medina and check out the tanneries, a couple gardens, and the main kasbah. Our flight leaves pretty late, so we’ll be able to get in a lot tomorrow. We have another long layover in London again. This time, it’s not as long, so we’re just going to chill at the airport. If we’re lucky, we’ll find a place to catch a cat nap.Mo-peds. They’re everywhere. Not quite like in Cambodia, but there are still a lot of them, and they add a lot of complexity to getting around. The medina is like a labyrinth, where the streets are barely wide enough for a car to get through. But people on mo-peds run through them often, weaving around pedestrians and vendor stalls. If any of you remember the “great iPhone escape” of 2011, you may understand my nervousness around them, especially when it comes to my phone and bag. For the record, I pretty much always have a vice grip on my phone whenever I take it out to snag a picture of something.