From Marrakech, we took a three hour bus ride to the coastal town of Essaouira. A friend from law school who had lived in Rabat recommended it as the perfect counterpoint to Marrakech, and so we headed off for a few days.
The bus ride was reasonably uneventful. I took a Dramamine, which meant I was practically comatose for the majority of the ride. However, as the bus drew close to Essaouira, we were amazed to see goats perched up in argania trees along the side of the road. It was truly astonishing; I only wish I could have snapped a photo.
We arrived in Essaouira and were packed off to our serviceable riad in the northwestern part of the medina. We dropped our things off and headed to lunch at the charming restaurant Umia, just inside the sea walls.
After a lovely French-fusion lunch, we were prepared to go explore the town, starting with the medina skala. It was a clear, windy day - apparently the city is famous for its wind - and we were treated to the sound of crashing waves as we walked along the old fortifications.
Again, so many cats. But these looked somewhat better cared for than the ones in Marrakech. Perhaps it was the restorative sea air.
We had dinner at a funny little Italian restaurant because, well, why not?, and wandered home through the cool evening streets. In the morning, we woke up early so Daniel could check the surf.
There weren't a lot of surfers out, but there were a number of windsurfers. We watched a while (there were some spectacular wipeouts) and then headed to the port skala.
The port was busy with fishermen hauling in their nets and hawking their wares. It was also lousy with seabirds; I've never seen so many gulls in my life. Seeing all the birds kind of made my throat close up. I was also pretty sure I would end up with bird poop on my hair and/or clothes; Daniel let me borrow his hat as cover. Miraculously I made it unscathed.
It was very windy.
Because Essaouira was much quieter than Marrakech, exploring the markets was much easier and we spent a lot of time poking around the shops. I was particularly interested in the argan oil, which I hadn't realized was exclusively produced in the area around Essaouira, and housewares made of thuya wood.
On our last day, Daniel went surfing after breakfast and we met for lunch at the fish markets down by the harbor. There are a cluster of small restaurants that display the fresh fish of the day - you walk by, pick your fish and they cook it for you in a matter of minutes.
We ended up with grilled sardines, tiny shrimp in their shells, calamari, and a whole sea bass. It was absolutely fresh and the perfect way to wind down our trip to the coast.
After a week in Morocco, we had one final stop on our way back home: London.