One of the things I like best about Morocco is the amazing variety of sights and landscapes I can enjoy within comparatively short distances. That’s why I made Marrakesh my base on my recent visit. One day, I went over the Atlas mountains to the desert town of Ouarzazate. The next day, I headed in the opposite direction to Essaouria on the Atlantic coast. The drive takes about four hours on a very good, and straight, road. I did run into occasional
construction, which led to interesting detours and short stretches of rubble to which my driver, with a great sense of humor, referred as the “Moroccan massage.” The surface did, for a short time, rattle my teeth, but who cares?
Essaouria had a strong nostalgic pull for me as, once upon a time, it was a hippie haven and a favorite hang out for such super stars as Bob Marley and Jimmy Hendrix. The place does not disappoint. The first thing I saw is a very wide, curved beach and moderate waves of its ocean. I could not resist diving in after the hot, hot drive. Windsurfing is very popular for more energetic souls and the water in Essaouria is not as cold as in other Moroccan Atlantic beach resorts.
Refreshed, I was hungry and headed for the fish shacks at the marina, a very typical Essaouria experience too. Fresh fish, which is auctioned by the fishing fleet every morning is laid out on ice, you just point, sit down at one of the wooden communal tables, order your drink and enjoy eating with your fingers.
On the other side of the beach interesting rock formations make for a different sight. Then I headed into the local medina, which is a far cry from the noise and excitement of its sister in Marrakesh. It is small, sedate, laid back, a bit dusty, romantic and relaxing.
I loved to just wander around the small alleys, look at the white and blue houses and at the merchandise on display. There were paintings and beautiful hand crafted trinkets such as bracelets, bags, glasses and the ever present soft embroidered slippers that are seen in many Moroccan bazaars. I also found vendors less aggressive. They just smiled and offered an inviting gesture to enter their shop, but otherwise seemed to just want to enjoy their day whether I bought anything or not.
The people were different too. A lot of dreadlocks, flowing dresses and sandals were in evidence. Nobody was in any kind of a hurry or seemed to have any particular destination they wanted to go. It was easy to imagine why this place was so popular with the flower people of times gone by and quite a few of their descendants still remain.
Inka is German and used to be an international attorney with offices in London and Spain. Retired two years ago because I wanted to be a traveler and writer and now live between Didim, Turkey, and Miami with plenty of travel in between. Next destinations: Istanbul, New York and Petra, Jordan.