We left Gatwick bright and early, on a very comfortable flight with room to spread out. We had a smooth landing in Marrakech at 1 pm – these folks from British Airways are good!
No jetways in Morocco. They roll the stairs across the tarmac, and you step out of the plane to be greeted by blue skies, sunshine, and roses blooming. This was much nicer than we had expected for January! Everywhere around the spotless airport were handsome uniformed personnel toting sidearms. Discipline was tight, things were orderly, and border control and customs ran very smoothly.
Our taxi driver was waiting just past customs with a Les Matins Bleus sign, and off we went in his battered powder blue Mercedes.
The view from the back seat on our two hour drive:
Lots of new construction in terra cotta. Scooters, trucks, horse drawn wagons with tires instead of wheels. Lots and lots of donkeys.
A lot of men simply standing around. (I’m thinking the unemployment rate is pretty high in the small towns.)
Palm trees, olive trees, orange groves.
Flocks of sheep grazing in dry, rocky fields.
Women in burqas or head scarves or djellabas. Men wear a combination of western style clothing or Moroccan, but women’s dress is pretty traditional.
We checked in at our hotel in Essaouria. Old but lovely, and all so foreign and exotic. Our room is on the roof!
We caught our breath for a moment, and then headed out for a walk around the medina. First stop – the old walls, ramparts equipped with cannons to protect the city from invaders. We climbed into a niche to watch the waves crash on the rocks below as the sun set. Then along came a police officer chasing us all down, saying closed, closed.
The medina is fascinating. Very uneven roads, so that you must constantly watch your step while also trying to take in the sights. There are all kinds of shops selling wood carvings, musical instruments, ceramics, leather, jewelry. So far, we didn’t buy a thing! That will change tomorrow. Heh heh.
We were trying to find a seafood restaurant that the hotel recommended, and we are not sure if that’s where we actually ended up. Our evening stroll had the potential to turn into one of Craig’s infamous death marches: we backtracked, stumbled through the slaughter district, traipsed around for what seemed like hours, and finally spotted a little place with a menu outside. I made an executive decision and entered.
We were the only ones there for the first 30 minutes. We gobbled down the olive appetizers and bread while listening to the background music. Jingle Bell Rock and a little Marvin Gaye. Where the Motown soundtrack came from, I have no idea. Maybe they played it in our honor. My tagine was boiling hot and delicious. Craig’s shrimp were so tender he could eat the shells. A little banana crepe and lots of mint tea, and the whole tab was about 16 bucks.
Since we were slipping into a food coma, we headed back home early. The walls of our room are too thick for the wifi (say wee fee) to penetrate, so we’re sitting outside connecting with the rest of the world. Tomorrow I’m going to figure out how to pop in a few pictures, so you can see what I’m talking about.