Boarding the dilapidated and fabric worn seats of the local coach, on a three hour bus ride, made me think twice about the wisdom of travelling this way. But I'm so glad I did. Being on a bus full of locals, with a conductor dressed as though he was a homeless streetwalker, rather than a smart uniformed ticket inspector, added to the exotic flavour of seeing real Moroccans at work, and gave just a snapshot of Moroccan life, far removed from the tourist hot spots.
One particular quirk, was the way the coach conductor clapped twice from the back of the bus every time he wanted to stop the coach to let someone off. And not for the first time on my travels, I sat next to a young Muslim woman, Amena, who couldn't speak a word of English, as I couldn't speak a word of Arabic, but we had the most enjoyable conversation in broken French. She asked me if I was a photographer in England and the clapping bus conductor very kindly forewarned me of a great photo opportunity just outside Essaouira by pointing out the bus window to dessert goats feeding up in the trees.
tourists stopping to get a look at the wonder of goats feeding in the trees. You can just spot the blue leg of the shepherd in the tree.
just in case you didn't believe your eyes the first time...real goats.
The white washed houses of Essaouira, framed with blue doors and window shutters was another departure from the chaotic sounds and scenes of Marrakech. This little coastal town, with its winding and charming Medina streets was a much more relaxed tourist site. Jimi Hendrix, the rock guitarist visited here for three days back in the 60's and I had my lunchtime snack in the very courtyard café where he also spent a few hours. (a claim, I'm sure, made by all the cafes in Essaouira!). I found two photos of him on the restaurant walls and the café with its airy and light courtyard café and its central location, I could imagine, was, just the sort of upmarket riad, a millionaire rock star would have dropped in to for a refreshing break.
One of my hero's, photos of the 1960's rock guitarist, Jimi Hendrix on the walls of the Hotel Medina Café, in Essaouira, where he supposedly and probably, had spent a few hours for a lunch.
I had to catch the late afternoon bus back so I didn't have too much time. Heading for the walled ramparts I spent a few minutes watching the Atlantic waves crash against the rocky coast, exploring the charming, winding artisan craft shops, busy fishing port and fish market, before heading back to the bus station for the ride back to Marrakech.
The whitewashed walled town of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast
rowing boats in the harbour of Essaouira
old pots and kettles
fishing boats in Essaouira harbour
Medina tourist trade
ramparts that defended the walled Medina of Essaouira
Indigo blue - the colour of Essaouira
fishing boat in Essaouira harbour
how many rowing boats can you fit into one harbour?
tourist souvenirs hang from the walls of the narrow streets behind the ramparts
view of Essaouira and Atlantic ocean as we approach by bus
art of Essaouira
gathering up handfuls of fish for the customers at the fish market
seagulls hovering for the scraps
locals choosing the ripest cactus fruits, the seller cuts and peels the fruit which are eaten at the cart with the pith and peel dumped in a bin underneath
fresh orange juice stalls, as in Marrakech, but in Essaouira, complete with peel for decoration
women selling fish in the harbour market
feral cat and kitten sleeping in streets of Essaouira - slightly healthier looking than the cats in Marrakech
I took a lot of photographs from the window of the bus to capture some of the country in between the two towns. Morocco is developing as a country and many women are now accepted in work, with many womens' cooperatives set up in compounds outside towns producing argon and crafts. But it's sad to know that a great percentage of Moroccans who live in the countryside, still cannot read or write.
view from bus of isolated outlet selling Bedouin tents.
dessert farmstead in between Essaouira and Marrakech
lonely goatherd in the dessert.
plenty of tajine stalls by the roadside
Social housing project in the dessert. There seems to be more social housing being supplied in parts of Morocco, than we have here in Britain
crashing Atlantic waves on the coast at Essaouira
After a few hours in Essaouira, it was time to head back to the bus and back to Marrakech and the Medina. (scroll down to 'older posts' to see part three )
Copyright: (C) Deborah Anne Brady: all rights reserved September 2015 All photographs by Deborah Anne Brady (C)