Our hotel sits just beyond the wall of the Medina.
This morning started out a little differently then yesterday morning…the enormous amounts of rain we received over night caused a power outage in the section of the Medina we are staying in, resulting in cold showers. Despite cold showers we were treated to another great breakfast (by candle light) that would prove to provide us a lot of energy for a busy morning/early afternoon!
We began our morning adventure by meeting our local guide Hakima, a very intelligent, knowledgeable and sweet woman who showed us around the Medina. The Medina provided ample opportunity to take in all the sights ranging from the long narrow streets complete with shops of every type to the beautiful ocean views from the fortress on the edge of the Medina.
Following our tour of the fortress we moved onto the old Jewish quarter of the Medina, Hakima was able to explain to us that most of the Jews had left, but their impact was still felt; evidenced by blue and white (blue which was believed to have kept bugs away and white because it appeared sanitary) awnings and entry-ways and Star’s of David adorning the top of doors.
After winding through the Jewish quarter we found ourselves at the Argan oil co-operative, we immediately witnessed the work that goes into creating Argan oil and it’s dual purpose (Beauty and Cooking). We were treated to some fresh flat bread to sample the Argan oil and delicious mint tea.
Further exploration took us past a small bakery, where we sampled a fresh loaf of bread for a mere 1 dirham (12 cents US), we all decided it was so good we purchased another!
We then headed to the School of Jewelry, there we saw students learning to make silver jewelry with a variety of different stones and settings, complete with showroom. Needless to say some folks might be bringing back some great gifts. The craftsmanship of the jewelry was amazing and was neat to see the art being learned. This was our last stop within the Medina, which is completely closed off to vehicles. We boarded the van and headed nearby to a local shop where crafts persons created various objects out of local Thuja (wood), much of which with beautiful inlay of citron wood.
Finally onto lunch at a nice spot by the beach, I think we were all shocked at how late in the day it was by this point (2pm), we enjoyed a good lunch varying from Fruit Salad to Fish Tagine and then headed back to the Hotel for a brief rest.
We again met up with our local guide Hakima and she provided us with a brief overview of Morocco ranging from History to Politics. Again the group was thoroughly impressed with her breadth of knowledge and wisdom and were sad to part with her for the night.
I think by the end of the day it was clear to us why Essaouira is and has been such a cosmopolitan city. Rich in culture, history, shopping and art, it is no wonder why it captures the attention of so many visitors and has done so for some time. Although we have seen so much already, there is so much more to be done in Essaouira tomorrow.
Tomorrow looks to have even more in store than today!
We can hear this from our Hotel, a call to pray from the local Mosque, up to five times a day.