Sunday, December 27, 2009
A New Intimacy in Essaouria
It was a long night for Seamus as he is suffering from Moroccan tummy. It started in Marrakesh where the hamman (bathroom) in the room we had didn’t have a wall to the ceiling and you could hear everything going on in the bathroom. The room here in Essaouria is lovely but has curtain separating the hamman from the bedroom, no door, and I could hear the thundering of Seamus’ Moroccan tummy as he suffered all night. Thus the new intimacy. Some Imodium and some other meds and he is doing better.
This morning I had a really pleasant walk around the medina where no one bothered me. They seem much more laid back here. The Moroccans are traders so they are always trying to engage you in conversation and suddenly you feel adopted. Then they can sell their goods or services to you. A classic case was in Marrakesh where a guy came up to us and said, “Don’t you remember me from the hotel?” Of course you don’t but you are trying to be polite. This guy wanted to take us to a restaurant but we knew where we were going. He didn’t come from the hotel at all.
I found a really nice carpet I may buy. Later Seamus and I walked to the fishing port and looked at the fleet where some of the boats have definitely seen better days. All kinds of fish are on display at outdoor stalls and I chose a lovely fresh sea bass (branzino to the Italians), which they grilled up for my lunch and I sat down and ate on the spot. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and in retrospect the fish was a bit big. Seamus drank water. Later this afternoon I sat in a café and had a couple of espressos and some coconut gelato, which was excellent. It was beautiful sitting there people watching with the sun in my face and the roar of the ocean in the background thinking of further intimacies which would come later in the afternoon.
Seamus and I had an appointment at the hamman, Moroccan steam room, late this afternoon. Any French readers please don’t laugh. We went in to the room with the girl and she told us in French to take off our clothes but we very quickly wrapped towels around ourselves. "Non, non! " she cried. To our dismay we had to take off the towels and go naked in to the hamman, a beautiful white room with two areas to lie down and a big sink in the middle. We lay on the red mats in the gentle heat and the girl poured warm cascades of water over me then covered me in sabon noir, which is a soap used in the hammans, then she did the same to Seamus. We were scrubbed down with an exfoliating mitt and covered with something else. Then we had our hair shampooed and mud was spread all over. We were left for a while and washed yet again. Finally we were massaged with arjon oil then sent on our way. It was a great experience. The room was a perfect temperature not like a steam room where you are battling to survive and the warm, rolling water cascading over each time had an almost erotic feeling.
Seamus is well on the way to recovery so it was off to buy a Berber carpet that I had seen in the afternoon. It’s taken a long time but I really like it as the pattern is quite subtle. We got it at a “democratic” price. This is the patter that the locals use here when they are bargaining with you. We had a bit of a walk around the port and went back to the same restaurant as last night, where a lot of locals go. We both had sole tonight. My stomach is suffering from too much branzino at lunch or I hope that is all it is.
Tomorrow we will have to leave this hotel but we are hoping to stay in the area. It will mean a long drive to Rabat the next day but we need some non driving, hanging out time in the lovely hot weather. And so this strange day of new intimacies with Seamus is over. He is sound asleep.