Food here in Morocco seems to be done right, with Breakfast being no exception. This morning we were greeted by another wonderful array of breakfast foods (croissants, muffins, yogurt, cheese, cereal, coffee, tea, orange juice) and more rainy weather. The weather however was not enough to contain our excitement and energy for the day ahead.
We began our day by heading down towards the water to explore the small fishing port and fish market with our guides Hakima and Jamal. It was amazing to see and hear about fishing in Morocco. Much of the fishing is done in smaller boats (pictured below) and a system of rotation is used to ensure that all fisherman are given ample opportunity for days of fishing. I think the lobster industry of Maine could stand to learn a thing or two from this concept of sharing.
We were able to see several boats under construction and several that were being renovated after ten years of service. All boats built here in Morocco are built of wood, with Teak being shipped in to form the extremely weather resistant outer hull. It was evident through observing various stages of construction that boats here are well built!
Continuing through the harbor area we passed the local fishing cooperative. The cooperative works to help the fishing industry with fishing concerns and regulations. Further up the narrow road was the ice factory, this factory produces the much needed ice for the area fisherman to pack their catches on and preserve for transport.
Turning the corner of the street we could immediately smell the strong aroma of fish as we progressed down this side street we came upon the small fish market. Here we observed a variety of fish in different size and color caught by the local fisherman and for sale.
Having seen the harbor we moved back into the Medina, to look at Rugs. Hakima brought us to one particular shop, here we were greeted by a Rug Dealer. He was very knowledgeable about the rugs, where they came from, what symbols and colors meant. It was specifically interesting to learn about how the pigments for these rugs are produced by plants from each region. Truly a beautiful sight to see rugs of every size and color stacked to the ceiling on all walls.
We continued through the Medina criss-crossing areas we visited yesterday, most in the group in search of the perfect shop to purchase that perfect item to bring back as a souvenir. One particular store that caught our attention was a small bakery with various delicious looking baked goods, as it was still prior to lunch we decided to move on (this decision would pay off later as we hit the baked goods jackpot!). Several members of the group have become very successful at negotiating with local shop owners and have some great finds to prove it!
Another great meal for lunch at a small cafe located in the middle of the Medina. A great spot to relax and watch as people walked by. As we finished our meal, the sun appeared much to our pleasure.
With the weather finally in our favor, we headed towards the beach to explore this area more with Camels. The camels proved to be very enjoyable and offered a great change of pace to the walking we had done previously and the sun felt GREAT!
When our trek along the beach was over we headed to a small cafe to enjoy some previously passed on baked goods and drinks.
Baked goods gave way to more relaxation, Hakima took us to a Hammam. The best I can do to describe a Hammam and provide some semblance of justice is to describe it as a Sauna x 10. It started with a massage and then moved into a small stone lined steam room, once inside hot water was poured on the skin, followed by a rough textured glove all over (used to remove dead skin), followed by a dark black mud used to remove this skin. All this was followed up by soap and warm water rinse. Leaving the entire group rejuvinated and rested!
When we got back to the Hotel, Ryan found out he had gotten into the Pharmacy School at UNE. Congratulations Ryan! A great cause for celebration! Following dinner we celebrated with more sweets, and a small cake with candle to celebrate.
We were fortunate enough (thanks to technology) to wrap up our day with a conversation with Anouar Majid Associate Provost for Global Initiatives at UNE and also from Morocco. We were able to share with him our experiences so far, what we have enjoyed and provided an excellent opportunity for reflection on what we have learned so far, it is hard to believe it has only been three days. It feels as if we are beginning to melt into the culture and community as we explore more and more.
Today was certainly another full, full day. Tommorow we move inland to Marrakech for the next three nights. We have thoroughly enjoyed Essaouria and it’s friendly people and hospitality! Our time here has been very memorable, many more adventures await us in the morning.