On a day trip to Essaouira (pronounced ‘S-where-a), on the Atlantic coast, we followed a two-lane road over dry land, for the 2-1/2 hour trip from Marrakech to the sea. It’s not called desert, according to Fouad, my driver, recommended by the riad where I stayed, because the southeastern border of the country is in the Sahara Desert. We passed camels and many a donkey walking slowly along the road, each carried a man perched sideways on it with feet bouncing gently, full bags on either side of the animal.

An attractive young woman led me around a women’s cooperative where argan oil is processed into cosmetics and body oils. Divorced or widowed women could find work there. She showed me the fruit, both ripe and dry, and the seed, which is called almond but not the kind we eat, and I saw how the women worked.

Women’s argan oil cooperative

Fishermen brought in their nets and cleaned fish along the old ramparts while seagulls hung suspended in midair overhead, yelling, raucous, waiting for their share, white wings waving. Little blue boats were jammed in so tightly at the port that it was difficult to imagine a fisherman extracting his own and getting it out to the open water, or perhaps you could take any that were seaward.

fish nets

Men repaired or painted boats, some a bold yellow.

Essaouira’s souks hawked boxes of thuya, a burled wood which polishes to a warm yellow brown, carpets, pottery, and other local crafts. Royal blue doors appeared on white buildings, but there was not the clean sharp white and blue contrast of the Greek islandsβ€”these were faded, ageing, peeling.

There was time for a walk along the beach and a stop at the seafood stalls before I had arranged to meet my driver for the return trip.

More to come. Morocco series: Marrakech, Essaouira, Tangier, Chefchaoen

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

52 thoughts on “Essaouira

  1. Another familiar corner of Morocco to enjoy through your eyes, Ruth. Those distinctive blue boats are just lovely and veritable icons of Essaouira. I have a similar shot of the birds going crazy around the port and its surrounding squares, how delightfully Hitchcockian. Wonderful photography throughout as ever, particularly of the boats.

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  2. I did get the chance to go to Essaouira when I was in Morocco in 2017, i.e. I didn’t have the time. But it’s very fascinating to go from the inland, dry desert area to the sea, as it offers a completely different perspective on the country. Such a colorful city, and the argan oil at the women’s cooperative is a great way for women from all walks of life to work together and produce some great, local products!

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  3. Morocco looks like a great place to visit. I love the colors and the architecture in your photos. Looking at the seagulls hovering in midair, it is hard to believe that for thousands of years brilliant people observed this without getting a clue about flight.

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  4. Ah, memories of our day trip to Essaouira, but also lots of fresh things for me to appreciate. I was on crutches after breaking my foot two days before, so I wasn’t able to explore much 😦 I love your photos of the boats and the gulls wheeling overhead!

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  5. On our trips to Morocco, we didn’t visit Essouria but your words and pictures conjure up great memories of one of our favourite destinations. Some of the more remote places we visited gave us memories which will live with us for ever – and this post just recharges those memories.

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  6. Great post and such wonderful photos from my beloved Essaouira. A few years ago, we had a chance to spend five days exploring its quiet souks and wonderful coast. As we continued our trip toward Marrakech, it was a perfect introduction to Morocco and its culture and the days spent in the coastal city prepared us for the noisy, colourful bustle that encapsulates Morocco’s vibrant soul. Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

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  7. Thanks for the pronunciation tip on your subject! What a contrast, from boats to camels (and I’ve always wanted to ride a camel). Also noticed the universal shape/color of the stop sign, if not the language itself.

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  8. Oh … all those little blue boats. It must be “last in, first out” I think 😊. Your photos of the seagulls, reminded me slightly of that movie “The Birds” from Alfred Hitchcock … I think that must have been the first and last “scary” movie I saw!

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