Saturday, December 26, 2009
Essaouria Christmas Day
We had a lovely breakfast at Riad Tizwa in Marrakesh. There were the four people from Edinburgh and another couple with the man coming from Aberdeen where I was born. Seamus said it was like a highland ghetto. Perhaps he felt left out of the discussion about the merits of deep fried mars bars.
We found our way out of Marrakesh not too badly but did manage to get on the wrong road but going roughly in the right direction. The Moroccans aren't big on signposting things or they do and then they don't. For people like us who have a gift when it comes to getting lost it is a bit frustrating. We saw some quantity surveyors and thought that they would be able to help us. We thought that they should be able to read a map. I sat in the car while Seamus took the map.
Wish I could have videotaped the next ten minutes of these guys trying to find where we were on the map. I started to get a little alarmed as they began pointing at place names on the far side of Marrakesh. We eventually established that we were on a secondary road which would soon allow us to turn right and get back to the main road, just as two previous people had indicated. We weren’t really that lost but it always seems worse when you don‘t see the reassuring road signs you are looking for.
From the car I could see hands pointing in every direction then they would make up their minds and point in a different direction. Meanwhile Seamus is giggling and laughing. I thought that if Seamus gets in to this male bonding much more he will be sitting at the cafes smoking with the men all day.
I had my last tajine at lunch. We stopped on the road and asked for a veggie tajine. The veggies were ok but the big piece of meat fat in there has put me off meat for some time to come. We had 6 cats and a cockerel trying to mooch from us.
The main road to Essouria is straight and fairly boring although long chunks of it are being upgraded making for easy driving. We passed through prairie-like areas where the local farmers actually had tractors. But apart from that it was like going back in time with everything being done by hand and transportation by donkey and horse cart and the primary personal transportation little beat up 50cc motos or slightly bigger scooters.
We stopped at an Argon oil cooperative run just by women. Argon oil or Moroccan oil is the new thing in cosmetics. I already had some from a herbalist with orange and myhrr. The ladies were all smiling and laughing with no men bossing them about. There are two kinds of the oil one for cooking, which is quite orangey in colour and the other for hair, face and massage. I tasted the cooking one tonight as you can put it on your salad. It’s very tasty and quite nutty. All the proceeds from this cooperative go to a foundation to help women. As a bonus the cream feels great on your face.
There has been terrific rain on the coast which they are totally unused to and it has caused havoc. A flooded road and necessary detour threw us for a loop just when we were almost in town. We sorted that out and then began driving around the front trying to figure out where our hotel was until one of us had the brilliant idea of going in another hotel and asking for their help, which they did, complete with map, and a few minutes later I was haggling with local parking guardians over the cost of our parking space just outside the medina walls and only a short walk from our amazing hotel.
Apparently it was once an almond warehouse. The rooms are huge and high which makes sense if they were once stacked high with sacks of almonds. This hotel is very classy and full of interesting artifacts and photos from the port in earlier times. What really intrigues me and I must get to the bottom of this, is that the entire staff we have met so far consists of rather beautiful women. The two manageresses are French. Very chic but I have to say when I shook the hand of the second one I thought "Darling get some moisturizer on those hands." They felt as if she had been laying patio stone all day. I asked El if would be appropriate for me to say something to her but was told to leave it alone. Tomorrow we will book a double hamman treatment which I think includes a massage and whatever else happens in a traditional Moroccan bath house (hamman).
Dinner tonight was a green salad that I didn’t eat. Who would have thought that you could find iceberg lettuce in Morocco? Tasteless. Anyway the best bit was my sole meuniere. The whole fish on the bone cooked to perfection. Seamus had some fish soup which he couldn’t eat because of his stomach so the waiter gave him some veggie soup. For dessert I had oranges with a tiny bit of dates and cinnamon. And I had a nice half bottle of Moroccan red. This was followed by a walk along the sea front with the waves crashing in as it’s quite windy but twenty degrees. Lovely.