The Atlantic coast in Morocco
in Essaouira, Morocco on 15th January, 2011


I wanted to visit the Atlantic coast while here in Morocco. I found a taxi to Essaouira for about 70 quid. This was way over the odds from what I thought I'd have to pay but, in three days, this was the best price I could find.

My driver picked me up in the most knackered Mercedes I'd ever seen. I thought he might have taken some others manufacturer's car and put a Mercedes symbol on it but no, this was in fact a really run down Benz. He never wore a seatbelt which meant he'd be really conscious of his reckless driving knowing his own life was guaranteed to go in the event of a miscalculation. I've never seen anyone floss through all the people, trees, rubble, donkeys and other knackered vehicles on the road at such speed. At one point we drove into a gas station like we were about to ram the entrance.

Two things are guaranteed in life: death and taxi drivers in the Arab world trying to take you shopping. I've got a lot of practice with the latter. Fortunately my driver only made two stops. One was for a tea break in which he got a snack and a drink for free and the other when I wanted to take a panoramic shot of Essaouira. But, he was keen to show me an olive oil which was unique to this region of the world. To make it, olives are fed to goats, they shit out the seeds and the seeds are processed into olive oil. Apparently it's got a nutty flavour and won the "slow foods" award. I don't normally buy this sort of shit on holiday so I passed on the opportunity.

The streets of the Medina in Essaouira aren't accessible by car so a guy with a cart helped me get my bag to my hotel. It was an absolute maze finding my way through the narrow streets. There are almost no street signs and many of the streets aren't distinctive enough to remember the first time around.

When I got to the hotel, a woman working there greeted me. She showed me a few of the rooms and let me pick which one I wanted. Then she showed me the view from the top of the hotel. It was amazing, I could see everywhere in Essaouira and the whole coast from up there.

I then made my way through the twisty streets till I found the coastline. There I relaxed and looked out at the waves crashing against the jagged rocks.

After lunch I wondered along the beach front. There were random men coming up to me every twenty minutes trying to sell me something. One guy wanted to sell me a Rolex for £70. We eventually reached a deal at £7.50. Another guy wanted to sell me delicious cakes his mother had baked. He also sold hash. I take a firm stance against drugs and I must have turned down 20 drug dealers in the 2 days I was in Essaouira.

There wasn't a nightlife to speak of. I spent the evening looking for a shesha cafe but to no avail. I eventually bought a kit and lit up a shesha on the roof of my hotel. It was relaxing because there was almost no wind and I could hear the sound of the Atlantic ocean.

Most of the other tourists were from France, Spain, Italy or Germany. I was a little jealous of seeing a bunch of them bring their cars from home. They effectively had complete sovereignty in Morocco and could really explore everywhere without a pushy taxi driver trying to rush them to their destination.

On the morning I'd left I had arrived at an agreed meeting point 30 minutes early and waited for my taxi. I rang him 20 minutes later and he said he was in Essaouira and would be there soon. 10 minutes later I rang him again and he clarified he wasn't in Essaouira, he was in Marrakech and he wasn't coming to get me. I then found a city taxi to take me to the long distance taxis. There I found one to take me to Marrakech for less than what the original taxi driver was supposed to take me there for. About 70KM out of Essaouira he said he couldn't go any further and wanted to pass me off to another car. I convinced him to complete the 170KM journey to Marrakech. He punished me by playing pan flute music the rest of the way.


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