After the hustle that was the souks of Marrakesh, it was a refreshing change to wander about the souks in the medina in Essaouira where ‘no thanks’ was accepted as a polite rebuke, only occasionally met with eyes thrown to heaven or mutterings about what I assume was the equivalent of ‘bloody foreigners’. And in Essaouira, the mix was surreal: carcasses of meat hanging between the latest designer knockoffs.
Sunshine during the day was lovely. Lots of cafés to stop off in and watch the world go by. Plenty of mosques to create a cacophony five times daily, including one just across the street from our blue-shuttered flat. The couple of days I spent in bed, sick, were interesting to say the least. I really should have paid more attention to the list of restaurants the landlady left for us. Her note beside one saying it was okay to eat the salads there should have rung an alarm bell and made me realise that it might not be okay to eat the salads elsewhere. Add that to taking over-the-counter antibiotics and overdosing on the paracetamol and it was a recipe for disaster.
Moroccan flats are bloody cold in winter. No heating systems. Twenty-four degrees outside and four degrees inside. I had plenty of time to wonder what I’d do were I to move over and I’m still none the wiser. That said, I think I still want to give it a go.
The view from the flat looked down over a row of shops, one of which was kept going into the small hours of the morning, whatever it was he was selling. The rooftops are covered with satellite dishes. Internet is cheap – just €2 for 400 MB and about €12 for a data card to make your own home wifi. It’s all a little at odds with the other-worldly feeling that permeates the place.
And much and all as I like to drive, being in a world within walls where no cars are allowed was very therapeutic. The whole place is a Unesco Heritage Site and so well it should be protected. A bolthole from the madness that lives just over the parapets.
My wish for 2016 is that I somehow find the money to buy a flat somewhere, just so that I can come back to Essaouira and furnish it. The carpets. The sconces. The leather. The pottery. The bedspreads. The choices. Truly a shopping heaven and so very very different from the proliferation of sameness that has beset the high streets of Europe.
But outside the walls that enclose this sleepy haven, the tides push and pull, fighting to make themselves heard. The surf rages. The seagulls compete with the muezzins come prayer time. It’s all in such stark contrast and from the inside looking out, quite spectacular. A fitting place indeed for Jimi Hendrix to have written When the wind cries Mary.
The proliferation of sameness in the highstreets of Europe……….I think that this threat is a major problem for our times and not just in Europe……..all countries, particulary the developing ones, want the money that the tourist can bring. The developing countries are short of money and turn to international developers to help them develope their countries to bring in the tourist……….developers are not interested in sentiment (unless it can be shown to make money) ……….as developers will inevitably represent a number of investors – private, banks/ pension funds and sometimes other nations………these type of investors will be looking for a safe investment i.e. something like the last successful one. I suspect that developments that respect local character ( other than in a Disneyland sense) are risky and unlikely to be favoured by developers……….the result, well I think your blog has been recording the sad changes. It has probably always gone on but our insatiable demand for the next place to visit before we die seems to be massively accelerating the process…….I’m sure that in the short time that you have lived in Budapest you will have seen it.
Hmmm……..a selfish part of me says I should speed up the the number of visits that I make.
Cuba is high on my list for this very reason – as are the Faroes (sp?)
I now understand your comments……on arriving in Essaouira I loved the place, such a contrast to other towns and cities in Morocco. When my daughter says to me ……..’just saying Dad, before we go should we look at how much it would cost to buy a flat here?’ ………it tells me something is very right with the place.
We could go halves – timeshare 🙂
The place certainly caught my imagination ( ……and eating barbequed langoustines a few feet away from where they were landed was a delight to be repeated)……….thinking about it.
Interesting that you should mention the Faroes……….a delightful place that I have just learnt is facing major changes………as is Cuba of course.