Beware, belt fish looking at you
This is indeed an amazing fish. Its body is long and thin as a belt. It can reach 1,20 meters long. As it lives at high depth, where light is scarce, it has strange huge eyes to catch every bit of light ! It really seems looking at you !
Its scientific name is Trichiurus lepturus and is named in English Atlantic Cutlassfish, Largehead Hairtail or beltfish.
From previous tips, it might seem wise to buy argan oil in Essaouira. Actually, most shops in the Essaouira medina sell argan oil, but, for the same brand, it is about twice the price you can have it in any Marjan department store (look at my Rabat page)
Relax at the beach!
The magnet that attracts people to Essaouira is its cool location on the coast. You will see lots of Moroccans relaxing at the beach. Women will be dressed in their djellabas and some will be dressed in regular bathing suits, so you don't need to be overly concerned with modesty. I was not too impressed with the beach. It seems to often be overcast and foggy and the water was somewhat brown and appeared dirty. It was still nice enough to spread a towel out in the sand and relax on though.
Going closer to the ''porte de la Marine''
The ''Porte de la Marine'', seen here from the harbor, has got a very special design. It mixes a Greco-Roman styled doorway, with fluted columns and a triangular shaped fronton and on each side, for defense, Middle-Ages styled pepper-boxes.
Argan Oil and Co - Operatives
On the way to Essaouira,on my first trip, we stopped at this Co-Operative.
Each of the processes was explained by the guide.
First, the nuts are harvested (usually around July/ August) This is 'back breaking' work, picking the fallen nuts.
It takes between 40 - 50 kg of nuts to produce a litre of oil!
The hard outer shell is removed by hand (this part is used for fuel) The next layer is used for animal feed. Finally the small white kernel is reached (similar to a small almond nut)
The kernels are then pressed by hand (using 'pestle and mortar' ) to obtain the nutty flavoured oil.
The women of the Co-Operatives work long hours (about 12 - 14 hours a day!)
Our guide explained that the women were eager to work here as it gave them the opportunity not just to earn some money, but it was a chance for them to leave their homes. (Hmmm, I expect they still had to do all their household chores as well as work here!)
* Apparently the women are all divorced/widowed .
Our visit ended in the sales room, where we were invited to try Argan oil, Olive oil and the delicious amlou - argan oil/ honey and ground almond spread on crackers.
Of course, there were products to buy- as well as Argan and Olive oils for cooking/salad dressings, there were moisturising creams, oils and soaps.
Argan oil is high in unsaturated fatty acids, and claims to reduce cholesterol and prevent arteriosclerosis! - oh and its good for reducing wrinkles! The guide had lovely skin, so there might be some truth!
I can't remember the prices, but I paid £9 at Sainsburys in UK for a bottle of organic Argan Oil!!!!!! - So if you get the chance - buy in Morocco!
Also, if you buy here, You're getting the real thing, not adulterated olive oil etc.
I revisited this co-op in Sept 06 as part of my guided tour, which I was pleased to do, and bought some more argan oil.