Monday, December 04, 2006
The coast and Marrakech (Morocco Post 5 of 5)
After coming out of the desert, we headed to Essaouira, a seaside town. The fresh sea air and relaxed attitude were completely wonderful, and of all the places in Morocco, Essaouira is the one place that I would most like to return.
Most of our group endulged (or endured, depending on how you looked at it), in a traditional Turkish bath called a hammam. The bath involves being thoroughly scrubbed down, and after spending a week in the desert, I needed it! I felt much cleaner after having been through the experience.
Essaouira offered great markets, and I bought a few things, including some scarves and a small painting. The range of spices, leathers and other goods was fun to browse in. After a couple of days in the town, we were able to negotiate most of the labyrynth of streets in the souk, as the town really isn't that big.
After Essaouira, we headed back to Marrakech. We had a full day in Marrakech, so the morning was spent negotating and purchasing heavier objects that wouldn't have travelled well during the previous two weeks. I bought a small tagine here, which is a traditional Moroccan cooking dish. The tagine is also the name of the food that is cooked inside the dish, and tagines are similar to stews.
Marrakech was also the day of our great adventure to visit a local Koranic school. The school had been abandoned, but was supposed to be a good example of art work in Morocco. We headed out on what we thought was the best path, and an hour later, discovered that we were totally lost. We paid a couple of local boys to find the school for us, and still were walking for another half hour, twisting and turning through the souks and medinas as we went. It was a fantastic spot though, and it was one of the highlights of Marrakech.
Most of the group departed the next day, but I still had an extra day before I headed out. I spent a bit of time exploring the city, visiting a set of tombs and an abandoned palace in the city. The tombs were not that interesting, but the palace was fairly interesting, if only because of the huge number of cranes that had made nests on top of the palace walls.