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The natives don't care about hygiene referring to food. For example the homemade bread (cheap, always fresh and delicious) is sold from the earth at the local market (look at the picture).
So, better be careful if your stomach is sensitive :-). Mine wasn't. I ate almost everything and nothing bad happened to me.
Updated Jun 27, 2005
Though the amount of unwanted attention that tourists receive in Essaouira is much less than in Marrakech, there is still plenty of occasions for you to unnecessarily part with your Dirhams.
When our bus arrived in Essaouira there was a group of locals there to greet us. They offered to carry our bags into the medina, to find us hotels, to show us around, etc. We ignored all these offers; if you do accept them, make sure you agree the price beforehand. On the return journey a local guy insisted on loading our bags on the bus (despite our protests) and then demanded a tip.
Also, while walking the streets with our bags, a couple of guys asked us what hotel we were staying at and then tried to convince us that our hotel was full but that they could rent us a cheap room.
I was also offered drugs by one guy on a couple of occasions. The first time he spoke to us I thought he was trying to sell us carpets (tapis) raher than hashisch.
Updated Mar 13, 2005
Since my return home, I've read an article that states that many people visiting Essaouira succumb to stomach upsets no matter how carefully they eat and drink.
The article attributes this to the mists that occur in Essaouira that are often formed from the sea spray from the rocks below.
Apparently there is untreated sewerage being poured into the sea, which is being carried in the mist.
Well I'm not sure how many people do suffer from stomach problems here - personally I haven't, and there was a mist on the evening we arrived in Essaouira.
Updated Apr 14, 2008
Near Fishing harbours, you can be sure that there will be sea birds.
Near the Skala du port, there are masses !!!! all squawking and flapping, either flying over the harbour / fish market area, or perching ready to grab a morsel of fish or other scraps of food.
If there was 'Soundavision' on this site, you'd hear the theme from Hitchcocks 'The Birds'!!
Having once been the victim of a 'direct hit' from a defaecating seagull flying overhead, I naturally get a bit wary! (I now try and wear a hat, if visiting coastal ports)
Even if they don't 'hit' you, these feathered scavengers do leave their mark over walls and seating, so be careful when you sit down. They can be a bit daunting too, flapping so close overhead!
Updated Jan 1, 2008
Heres a photo of a big hole or uncovered manhole/storm water drain along the promenade in Essaouira - luckily I was watching where I was going but the promenade turned a slight corner and it would be easy enough to be preoccupied taking photos, rollerskating, talking to someone and not see this until too late - its quite a deep hole with rubbish at the bottom and one could easily break their leg or other physical damage falling into it
I didnt notice any other holes like this along the promenade we had been walking on up to this point so there was nothing giving any lead or inkling to this sort of thing being where one would walk here.
I was walking somewhere in the medina in Taroudant once where Id walked down to take a photo of a door at the end of a side street and just in time caught my balance when my foot went onto the side of a deep hole like this - my pulse raced for a while getting over the shock of how close I was to having a fall
So the warning is to always look where you are going and dont expect people or the authoritories here to think about risk assessments or danger management!!
Written Jan 31, 2012
There are stalls along the waterfront that sell you fish and then cook it for you. They get the fish from the fishermen who go out in the small boats. When the wind is too bad, these boats don't go out. This means that the fish in the stalls are not today's catch, and may not be too fresh. Our guide says he doesn't eat there if the boats have been in the harbor all day.
Written Jan 10, 2010
Essaouira is a fishing port, and when the fishing boats have completed their daily sorties far out into the ocean, the catches are eagerly sought by restauranteurs and local merchants, buying the quality fish on the quayside................sole, cod, lobsters, prawns, sardines or anything else the boats have trawled up (even large beautiful shells, sold as decorative objects.)
However, the weather can be unpredictable, and sometimes the fishermen are reluctant to sail if there is a storm warning. This means no fresh fish is available, but some restaurants sell old stock to diners, heavily disguised by overcooking and dressed with herbs and maybe a "special house sauce", enthusiastically presented by waiters with disarming smiles.
Travellers with delicate stomachs beware, the fish itself will taste like rubber, and may or may not cause illness, Moroccans don't generally believe in freezing foods, preferring to buy fresh, on a daily basis in the souks.
Fortunately my stomach is accustomed to dodgy food and I never suffer gastric enteritis, but not everyone will be so lucky.
Updated Oct 11, 2012
This is not so much a warning, more like a typical Moroccan street celebration of one sort or another, but which can cause spectator congestion in the narrow Medina streets, and attract the attention of pickpockets and other street undesirables, however the ancient muskets displayed in this photo were unloaded and presented no danger !
Updated Oct 1, 2012
I came to Essaouira to learn to kite surf with magic fun afrika, on my arrival i could not find the shop until the next day i saw the managers van, he explained all businesses have to move to make way for beach side cafès. We agreed to meet at 12pm to start my first lesson, however by 12.30 there was no sign of him, when he did show he had not brought any equiptment for me. He offered to go back to the shop but his lack of enthusiasm and unreliability had put me off spending so much money on his service. Instead I agreed at his suggestion, going the next day with him and some others to Moulay where he said the surf was better and they had another shop. The next day eagerly met up with him for the trip. The shop is under construction, and i was concerned keeping my belongings there but the manager assured me my stuff would be safe as he would be there the whole time. The surf however was rubbish; and after an hour of dodging torpedoing windsurfers I gave up and headed back to the shop. As I entered and went up the stairs I noticed my bag had been tampered with; I immediately opened it up and found my purse only to find that 600dh had been stolen. I ran down the owner explaining this, he simply shrugged and said 'ìmpossible, I ave been here the whole time', over and again I pleaded with him that I know exactly how much money I had but he refused to believe me and claimed all his workmen and staff were honest people, he barely looked at me and continued to set up a wind surfer. Furious I went to check if anything else had been taken, his colleague followed me up, he kept saying 'i believe you, but there is no way someone could have come up and taken it'. I gave up and waited to go home in disbelief; not so much that my money was stolen but the way they treated me.
Im not pointing fingers but the more I think of it the dodgier the whole thing feels.
Written Apr 9, 2007
Travellers of a certain age may remember guitarist Jimi Hendrix and his brief association with Essaouira and the village of Diabat, two kilometres south of the town.
In years gone by, direct access to the village and its small memorabilia cafe, avoiding a long detour by road, was by crossing the river Ksob over stepping stones, but in the wet season, the normally placid river became a wild torrent, and there were a number of fatalities when villagers were caught unawares by flash floods and swept out to sea and drowned.
The Moroccan government has now invested millions of dirhams in construction works to redirect the accumulation of flood water into giant relief basins, and a new road bridge now connects to the village.
However, many tourists prefer to walk along the beach to Diabat, crossing the river at its estuary into the sea. This can be safe at times when rainfall is minimal and the river is a narrow shallow stream, but it can rapidly turn into a deadly raging torrent, so if a thunderstorm seems imminent crossing by the new road bridge is advisable.
Written Oct 2, 2012
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