Sunday, 14 October 2012

Off the beaten track

Essaouira has a reputation for being one of the most laid back towns in Morocco. It is.

There are the usual tourist fare shops, but the owners seem hardly bothered to sell, instead snoozing in their chairs out front and watching the world go by. In addition to the usual leather, pottery, carpet, metalware etc, CD shops offer what appears to be jazz in many different forms. Cruisey music wafts into the medina alleys. Being near the beach helps too. The seagulls 'song' is a constant soundtrack.

Our Riad manager offered to take us out of town to her favourite 'secret' spot. She said it wasn't the kind of place tourists go. We drove out of town past the place where Jimi Hendricks lived, now a reggae cafe. About 20 minutes further we turn off onto a dirt road. No signs. We bump along a track that really needed a 4WD, but we took it slow. 10 minutes in I'm thinking this is more than secret, it seemed ridiculous to think that there was going to be anything resembling a cafe or restaurant at the end.

The food's really good she says. He doesn't have a sign because he hasn't got a license. He's been married 18 times and been in jail twice. This is going to be interesting.

It was. On the edge of the beach is a ramshackle building and a few tables and chairs that would have been good for hard rubbish collection in Brunswick. One had a noisy group of Spanish travellers, another had some other ex-pat locals for whom this was clearly a regular stop. Along from the 'cafe' were a bunch of other rock buildings that apparently were used by fishermen, who kept their boats out here. The proprietor of our establishment got his seafood directly from them. We nibbled on shrimps, octopus, Moroccan salads and calamari. All better than expected. It was pinch yourself stuff. We like to think we're a bit adventurous, but we are not that intrepid really. It takes a friendly local to enable people like us to experience places like this, and yet again our image of this land and its people is enriched.

P.S What Colin forgot to mention and Johanna and I thought was one of the main 'attractions' was all the animals. See Johanna's blog and there are some photos especially for you Heidi....