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Wednesday 15 Aug
Essaouira, Morocco

Skating near Essaouira! (continued)

Their first, jointly voiced reaction was a resounding "Cool - this is awesome!". Mine was a considerably more restrained "How dark is it in here? Bit damp isn't it? Oh goody - one toilet and shower for all residents! They should have called this place the rabbit warren - do I really have to get on my hands and knees to crawl into THAT room? Phew - good job I'm not claustrophobic!".

We bagged the 'family bunk', dumped our gear and went straight out to explore our new surroundings. Impressions of Essaouira were of a vibrant, lively hippy enclave, with laidback easygoing locals and far less hassle than Marrakesch. Its considerably cooler on the coast, with a permenant breeze and you can smell the sea everywhere, interspersed with the pleasant aroma of thuja wood and rather less pleasant smell of fish. Seagulls everywhere and lots of them!

Imogen says;

The day began early with a wrestling match - us versus our bags! Unfortunately the bags were winning the war. We huffed, puffed, heaved and tussled to get our gear back into a space that seemed to have shrunk significantly in the past few days. One combined team effort later, comprising of Mam and I shoving, cramming and poking objects into every conceivable nook and cranny, Mam hauling on the zips in a tug-of-war type action and Flinn 'helping' by sitting and sometimes lying across the bags to squash everything down, we achieved the gold medal - winning the wrestling match! I worked up quite the appetite for breakfast and was highly disappointed to find it was the same old rubbery crepes as usual!

We said goodbye to Jo and Sarah at the medina walls before going our seperate ways, in seperate taxi's, in opposite directions - almost like one of those star crossed lovers, riding off into the sunset type movies - except we weren't starcrossed, lovers or in a movie - oh, and it wasn't sunset either!!

After a slalom ride in, out and around various winding streets and alleys, we arrived at the bus station, which was as bad as anticipated. Surprisingly, the bus was far superior to our expectations. All things considered, we prefer the bus being better than the station, simply as we have to be on it longer!
The bus ride down to Essaouira was interesting in a number of ways, not least with Flinn's excitement at spotting hundreds of goats and sheep. He reckons he spotted goats in an argan tree, but Mam and I didn't see them, nor the rest of the passengers, so we reckon he's telling porky pies! We had a great view of the Atlas mountains and passed through miles of rocky desert - the hamada. You could see rolling heat waves for miles.

We had an interesting experience during the half way break. We pulled into a 'service station', such as it was. Everyone dived off the bus feeling a little worse for wear - despite the air conditioning, the bus had got hotter and hotter as we passed through the desert and of course we were sat on the sunny side - we learnt a good lesson actually - if travelling in the afternoon, make sure you sit on the left side of the bus as it is cooler and shadier, otherwise you have the full force of the sun beating down on you through the windows. Poor Mam was really hot and bothered as she wouldn't let Flinn or I sit by the window because of it. Incidentally, if you travel in the morning, for the same reasons as outlined above, it's better to sit on the right - all to do with that sun rising in the west and setting in the east - or is it the otherway around???

Flinn chose this rest stop to play up - not in a bad or naughty way, but more in his infamous stubborn way. He refused to walk a little way down the road to a scrubby patch of ground for a wee and therefore, we all had to endure the trauma of hole in the ground hell and pay for the 'pleasure'! I really wish we had bought one of those 'shewee's' before we came here, as piddling in public would have been so much easier and enjoyable - it's rather hard to relax and 'go with the flow' so to speak, when you're focusing on not performing a, to nick one of Mams phrases, 'shit skate'!  Fortunately, an as it turns out useful by-product of living in Canada, is my ability to skate - and once learned, I have now, to my utter disgust, found out that it doesn't matter whether it be on shit or snow!! Right about now, I'm not feeling much sisterly love towards a certain young family member!

Back on the bus, we trundled on and had a bit of a cat nap as there really wasn't much else to do - the roads were too windy to focus on reading and it was so hot, we barely had the energy to turn pages anyway. We're so grateful that we brought travel pillows with us and we were quite the envy of many people on the bus because of this - comfort is a highly prized commodity - I'm thinking of renting my pillow out by the half hour - a good little earner!! We also napped as a way of justifiably and discretely covering our eyes/noses - it looked as if we were trying to cover our eyes from the brightness of the sun. In reality, we were covering our noses from the alpha-males sat around us sweating buckets and seriously honking. This country needs a serious import of deodorant. It's BO capital - phew!! As Mam likes to say "It stinks bad enough to knock a buzzard off a shit wagon!" Another Canadianism we learnt, took to heart and is suitably appropriate is "It honks worse than a skunks ass in August!" I'm not sure which saying I like better!

Hitting 'civilisation' once again, we pulled into the bus station, disembarked and Flinn and I sat atop our gear while Mam went to scare up a barrow boy - it makes me laugh that - all the barrow 'boys' are wizened old men. I don't suppose barrow geriatric sounds as good though! Mam came back with a barrow - and a geriatric and we set off for the 'cave'. Grandma was teasing Flinn saying "I wonder if it has a big rock that you roll across the entrance for a door! We reached the Bab gates, passed through into the medina and barrow geriatric wove his way rapidly through the crowds, us trotting behind trying to keep up! We arrived at 'the cave', bashed on the door - no rocks in sight and Biz Biz let us in. He's a surfer dude, in an odd Moroccan way and sports a huge fro! Inside, Mam groaned. Flinn and I loved it. There is surf gear all over, lots of artsy fartsy stuff, low seats to flop on while listening to music - Biz Biz has a great collection. The rooms are more like crawl spaces really, so we nabbed the 'family' bunk in the 'normal' height room, chucked our gear up on it, had a quick wash in the one and only bathroom and went out to explore.

We were really pleased with what we saw. It's much more relaxed here and there is far less hassle which was a pleasant surprise. We wandered down the main street almost to the waterfront and then came back up another street. You can smell fish everywhere and the seagulls are screeching overhead. We found a really cool little place down a side alley and had a meal there, before meandering slowly back towards the cave. On the way back, we poked our heads into various places for a look and Mam caused a bit of a riot by spotting a hunja stand, buying some and standing there drinking it. Apparantly, outside the touristy areas like Marrakesch, standing at a tea stall is invading a male dominated space! Go Mama!!

Back at the cave we chilled out, lying around, listening to music and chatting to other travellers, before having an early night, at which point Mam got all anal about 'bed bugs' and made us sleep in our sleeping bag liners! Mother!!

The day according to Flinn;

I saw goats in an argan tree today - I did! I like the cave and I'm going to tell Grandma that it doesn't have a rock for a door!

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Morocco, 20 days, 1 backpack, 2 kids & 1 stressed out mother!

Travel blog by rachelmurray

 


Morocco - land of adventure, medieval cities, remote villages, mountains, Berbers, snake charmers, donkeys and .... um .... 'rocks' according to Flinn, age 5, who frequently tells me that "Mo - rocc - o - that means lots of rocks mama!"

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