The following morning we drove into Essaouira and set up our tents at the campsite there. We had a few hours doing housekeeping items – laundry, locker tidying and showering before Jess and I decided to head into town around midday. I was pleasantly surprised by the beach, which was pretty clean and very wide. The only visible dirtiness really was the mounds of camel and horse poo everywhere. Apparently it is quite the thing to ride camels along the beach in Essaouira! It was about a 30 minute walk along the beach and into town. When we arrived we found the entrance to the old town and medina. I really enjoyed walking around Essaouira as it has a lovely quaint atmosphere and is far more relaxed than Marrakech! Jess and I headed to the corniche in search of some of Essaouira’s famous fresh seafood – which we found in loads. Too much actually – we had to fight off the hawkers from each seafood stall who desperately wanted us to eat with them. There was a huge variety of seafood, including sardines, sea bass, king prawns, crab, calamari, octopus, sea urchin, whiting and lobster. We eventually settled on one stall to eat at (distinguished from the others by only the fact that it had tables in the sun!) and chose a selection of items. It was all grilled fresh for us and came with bread and Moroccan salad. Very delicious until it came time for the bill, at which point the waiter tried to convince us that king prawns were the same as spiny lobster and that we should pay 400 dirham ($45AUD) per kilo for them! This was not welcome news when we thought we were paying 30 dirham a kilo (as per the ‘shrimp’ listed on the menu). Anyway to cut a long story short, we argued for awhile and to no avail until I simply took the bill off the waiter, crossed out the bit we didn’t agree with, wrote a new bill with figures that we were prepared to pay, paid and then scarpered out of there! Following our lunch debacle we wandered through the medina for awhile longer, indulged in nutella crepes and then headed back to camp.
As it was Chris’s birthday, we were up for quite a celebration that evening. I broke out the dress and makeup and we all started drinking at about 6pm. Following a dinner of vegetarian lasagne and chocolate brownie cake made in the camp oven (courtesy of Jyoti) and complete with candles, we sang happy birthday and gave Chris his presents. Another truck party ensued and no one was in bed at a reasonable hour.
Fortunately, breakfast the following morning was not until 9am which gave us all the chance to have a much deserved sleep in. Except me – because my special Moroccan alarm clock (bought in the municipal market in Rabat for a grand total of 45 dirham) is not only missing a button and hugely inaccuarate in terms of time alarm is set versus time alarm goes off, but also now appears to run an hour fast! We packed up camp following breakfast, but stayed parked up at the campsite so that we could enjoy their facilities and proximity to town for the rest of the day before heading to another bush camp. I walked back into town and then missioned through the medina with Jyoti to find a needle and thread (no mean feat I tell you!). We grabbed a falafel sandwhich for lunch and then hit up a cafe for the afternoon, the criteria being free wifi and tables in the sun. After some time blogging, I wandered back to camp at around 3pm, following which we drove for about an hour to perhaps the rockiest and prickliest bush camp we have had yet. I got severely prickled whilst trying to find some firewood which was not easy given that there were no live trees let alone dead ones, I gave up when a herd of goats driven by some local boys wandered past.
Monday saw us on a drive day heading towards Agadir and the Western Sahara. Since before the trip began, we have all been on the lookout for goats in trees, as Becci had posted a picture of goats climbing trees (as they are wont to do in Morocco) on Facebook and we desperately wanted to see them for ourselves. It turned out to be our lucky day as we passed not one but multiple trees full of goats! We got very excited and frantically buzzed for a photo stop; however, but the time we had walked back to the trees in question the goats had gotten down. Disappointed we drove on, having given the task of finding us more goats in trees. He pulled through and before long we were all snapping away at hundreds of goats standing on the very top branches of trees – how they balanced up there I’ll never know.
We drove on, a bit behind schedule because of the goats sojourn, managing to find firewood to stock up on just before Agadir. We suspected (and would later be proven correct) that firewood would be scarce in the Western Sahara. We pulled into the big Marjane supermarket in Agadir at about lunchtime and had a nightmare shop to do – enough food for 25 people for 8 days! Luckily my cookgroup was going to be the first, which meant we could do meat on both nights. We had decided that keeping meat without a fridge or ice for more than 3 days was a definite no-go. Becci, Chris and I decided to cook a turkey and veg tagine on the first night and then a beef satay the following night, but getting all of the ingredients in our budget of 700 dirham was not easy!
We had lunch in the Marjane carpark and after loading the truck full of all the shopping, drove off to find a bush camp. We were quite successful with our turkey tagine, against the odds as the wood on the fire that night was super smokey and had us all coughing and crying.