morocco: a day among the blue boats of essaouira

In the morning, we had to wait interminably in the CapSim Hotel lobby to be served breakfast: a tasteless omelet, croissants, coffee, orange juice, and a bottomless supply of bread. I was anxious to get out and explore Essaouira on our first free day since Merzouga.

Susan, Chai and I went out toward the harbor to see and photograph the blue boats. The port offered picturesque views over the the fish market, the boat builders and the Île de Mogador.  Blue boats nestled into the harbor, fishermen repaired their nets and sold the day’s catch, craftsmen built traditional wooden boats, seagulls swooped and squawked overhead – it was all a cacophony of noise and activity.  Boat builders here supply fishing boats for the entire Moroccan coast in particularly seaworthy designs.

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blue boats at Essaouira’s port

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blue boat at Essaouira’s port

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blue boats at Essaouira’s port

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blue boats at Essaouira’s port

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blue boats at Essaouira’s port

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boatbuilding at the port

The fish market was particularly pungent, with its sardines, squid, shrimp, clams, and glassy-eyed fish.

Susan seemed in a rush, but Chai and I wanted to linger to take pictures.

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Essaouira’s port

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fishing nets at Essaouira’s port

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Essaouira’s port

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Essaouira’s port

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Essaouira’s port

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me at Essaouira’s port

We strolled across a long expanse of beach and walked to a cafe on the shore, where we had coffees and took pictures of each other, the beach, the walls around the medina and the fetching flowers.

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the beach at Essaouira

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Essaouria fuzzies

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wall around the medina of Essaouria

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Essaouria’s wall around the medina

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commercial boats in Essaouria

We then walked through the gates of the medina. Essaouira, once known as Mogador, was ruled by the Portuguese in the 16th century, when it prospered for a time as a major fishing port and a strategic military post.  It was part of a long line of Portuguese holdings all up and down Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, including Asilah, Azemmour, and El Jedida, which fell eventually to the local Regrara tribe.

Mohammed III reinforced the city’s walls, added to its fortification, and established direct trade with Marrakech in the 18th century. The town’s fortified layout is a prime example of European military architecture of North Africa.  It has a mellow, chill atmosphere, narrow winding streets lined with colorful shops, whitewashed houses, clean streets, and heavy old wooden doors.

As the city became more Arab in the 1960s, “Mogador” was changed to the Arabic name, Essaouria.  Now it is known commonly as the windy city for the strong winds that blow across the beach.

Essaouira’s walled medina was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2001.

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the gate to Essaouira’s walled medina

At the first shop inside the gate, I bought another scarf and Chai bought a blue striped bag.  We stopped at a riad to take pictures.

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fetching scene in Essaouira’s medina

We dipped into a shop of paintings where Susan and Chai bought a bunch of Berber alphabet pictures.  I kept debating over various paintings, but engulfed by indecision, I bought nothing, much to my regret.

Then we stopped at our hotel to drop off some of our purchases and Chai said he was off to take a nap.  I took Susan up to Skala de la Ville, since she’d been sick last night and had missed our excursion.

After that, we wandered around the medina and shopped, a very pleasant experience. At lunchtime, we stopped in a hole-in-the-wall cafe where we shared a vegetable pastilla dusted with cinnamon.  It was delicious. Then we continued through the medina, buying random things along the way.

We dropped our purchases at the room, then Susan and I walked down by the harbor and parted ways.  She took a walk by the beach, and I went back to the harbor to see the blue boats in the afternoon light.  I saw oranges peeled in fringe-like curls on an orange juice cart.  I captured the blue boats in various poses, while seagulls squealed and swooped.

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blue boats in Essaouira

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blue boats in Essaouira

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blue boats in Essaouira

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blue boat in Essaouira

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seagulls of Essaouira

After, I walked up to the uppermost deck of Taros, where I had views over the square and the harbor. I ordered a glass of wine and then a kind of bruschetta with tuna and fresh veggies accompanied by a wonderful salad. From atop the deck, I saw Susan sauntering across the square, weighed down by her sweater, with her purple fleece jacket around her waist.   I expected her to come up and join me as I’d told her I’d be there, but she never did.

Since Susan never showed up, and neither did Gabe, Rene, Christian or Natalie (they had planned to watch sunset from Taros), I left after dinner and strolled around the town. Musicians played lively tunes on the street and an old crazy drunk man kept trying to steal the money the musicians had collected.  A young guy picked him up by the collar of his jacket and tossed him off to the side, but the drunk kept picking himself up and trying to take the money again.

I eventually returned to the hotel, where I had the room to myself.  Susan didn’t return until 10:00.  I was happily reading although a little annoyed that she’d never shown up to join me.  Though she’d never shared a glass of wine with me the whole time we were in Morocco, she came back tipsy from drinking some wine with the younger gang of four. That irritated me and, combined with all the other things that irked me, I determined I’d never be traveling with her again. I didn’t speak much as I wanted to read my book and I didn’t have anything to say to her.  I was basically counting the days when we’d go our separate ways, and would very likely never see each other again.

I was so happy to connect with Chai today and when we were in the Atlas Mountains.  I know it was passive-aggressive of me, but after Fez, I had stopped tagging Susan on my Instagram/Facebook pictures because I was tired of taking the time to edit pictures and post them, while she didn’t want to bother to do it herself.

I enjoyed Essaouira, but by this time I was tired of being tied to the group.  I felt I was either stuck with them, or being shunned by them.  I know I’m not generally a warm and fuzzy person and I can keep myself at a distance from others, but it takes me really trusting someone and believing in their goodwill before I can consider them a real friend.

*Steps: 14,340; or 6.08 miles*

*Friday, April 19, 2019*

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On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Changing Reality.