On the Ground In Essaouira
Outside my window, two boys are kicking a soccer ball in a narrow alley. Nearby, a stray kitten is pooping in the walkway, a dog is scrounging for food and a woman is hanging her towel over the window sill to dry. On the breeze, I can detect the scent of salt water with a hint of urine. And though you have to hop over an overflowing sewage line to get to the little riad we rented, Essaouira is growing on me.
If you’ll remember, our first Essaouira attempt was a bust. This time, we were more optimistic. We were equipped with a reliable vehicle (we supposed) and the logistics seemed easier compared to our recent Sahara trip. Nobody tossed their cookies and there were no major diaper explosions, which was good because while I liked Essaouira right away, its smells did not win me over. The pungent fishing port had my stomach turning within moments of vacating the car. But Essaouira has a polish that is absent in other Moroccan cities I have visited. It’s popular with French travelers and it’s officially popular with me.
One thing I learned in Essaouria was to watch my step. Like everywhere in Morocco, the pavement is uneven. We’re not talking romantic, European cobblestone uneven. We are talking pile-of-rocks uneven. Curse-the-stroller uneven. Hope-I-don’t-trip-and-drop-the-baby-in-this-sewage-backup uneven. It doesn’t help that Essaouria is home to oh, I dunno, a million stray cats and dogs. Apparently, cats and dogs prefer to do their business on the only decent and steady place to put your foot. So, yeah, we may have squished a few piles beneath our flip flops.
Among other things found on the ground in Essaouria:
Overall, I loved Essaouria. It’s a laid back city and foreigner friendly. And according to CNN, it has one of the top 25 beaches in Africa. Though we didn’t get many pictures there (due to Carolyn’s persistent sand phobia), we might visit again next year. To use a phrase Moroccans use 100 times/day, Insha’allah, lord willing.