As we drove west toward the sea it was a cold day,
raininig on and off. As we drove through a small town we saw many sights.
Goats in the Argan trees. This photo, unfortunately is not
mine but a postcard. Goats climb the Argan trees to devour its olive like fruit.
The argan is North Africa's weirdest tree which is important ecologically and economically.
It onlyu grows in a small area of the country and the fruit looks like olives but it has
vitiamin-rich oil has a wide range of applicaitons.
The leaves feed camels and goats find the fruit delectable.
The trees are highly prized and the groves are owned by entire communities, not just one
farmer. When the fruit is ready to be harvested the entire village participates in the work
and the profits.
The Porte de la Marine has a beautiful stone arch
bridge where the river flows into the Atlantic. As you can see, we are there at low tide.
From the 18th century 40% of Atlantic sea traffic passed through Essaouira.
It was known as the Port of Timbuctu since it was the destination of caravans from
sub-Sahara Africa bringing goods to trade with Europe.
Once the city was one of Morocco's largest sardine ports
but those days have vanished. It still has the traditional
ship-yard where vessels are made of wood.
Fishing is still large part of life for some 500 to 600 families and seafood can be
purchased fresh from the sea. There are 246 species of fish caught off shore.
Fresh fish are laid out in an elaborate display at the harbour.
Fish are sold daily at the "shreeking market". So named because of the way the buyers
yell out their buying prices at the auction. Louder and louder the voices become to
be heard above all other buyers.
What kind of fish do we see here? Prawns, octopus,
squid, shrimp, snapper, lobster, eel, mussels, flonder, crabs, clams,
sardines, and many more I do not recognize. What a wonderful place to shop
for your evening dinner.
The city walls, with their original cannon from
Portugal, are facing the sea were built to withstand any siege. In the distance you can see Iles Purpuraires, an island
which was the source of Essaouira's famous purple dye. As you may know, purple was the color of the robes of
Roman nobility. On the 1st Century BC, Juba II, founder of Volubilis, set up a center for the production of
purple dye. The best purple dye in the world comes from a tiny drop of ink of a small mollusc found only off
the shores of this island.
Naturally no visit to a Morrocan city would be
complete without a walking tour of the Medina.
The labyrinth of narrow streets challenges
the shopper and you twist and turn through the Souk Jdid.
In some places the Medina has wide street
straight streets laid out at right angles to one another and cut by gateways.
Someone, somewhere, is being treated to mint tea.
Woven baskets can be bought to take home
your fresh mint to tonight's tea.
As we walk through the jewelry section we are told
about the bride-groom's responsibility to buy his betrothed, whom he doesn't see until
after the wedding, a certain quantity of gold jewelry which is her's forever. This is the
only custom in Morocco which I didn't thing was so exotic.
It was a treat to get out of Atlantic sea breeze
and rain to have lunch. Hot mint tea, just the thing to warm a cold wet soul.
As we work our way back to the bus Fran
never misses an opportunity to do some last minute shopping.
As we ride back to Marrakech we are as
tired as this donkey at the end of the day.
The sky clears and we have this
view of the snow capped Atlas Mountains.
We made an impromptu stop at a rug shop
and I found these bashful girls weaving behind the loom.
Belli at the Grand Titons, June 2015