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.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
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.
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.
- Family Travel
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!
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Beware of the old fish!
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.
- Food and Dining
holes in the footpath....
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!!
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
Musket Manoeuvres in Essaouira's Medina.
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 !
Were they fishing today?
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.
Flood defences, Diabat, Essaouira.
A recently-erected "panneau" at the new access road bridge at Diabat displays details of the government investment on flood defences.
I might just be an old cynic, but from long experience of corruption in Morocco, my immediate reaction was to ponder how much of the released capital finance would find its way into the offshore bank accounts of corrupt government officials..........
On the day I visited the excavations for the giant relief basins, most of the workers and their machinery were enjoying a very long siesta, something just didn't seem right!
Update May 2013......Although most of the flood defence works have been completed, some are only partially complete, despite an optimistic assertion on the main notice board that the duration of works ( delai d'execution) was anticipated to be ten months, and once again, this year, I noticed the same long afternoon siesta in the hot sun being enjoyed by the workforce. It appears the ten month estimate by Moroccan civil engineering standards was only a guess!
- Hiking and Walking
Sewage mist from the sea.
I noticed another warning and photograph of a mysterious sea mist causing stomach upsets in travellers and tourists in Essaouira. I've never seen this myself, on my many holidays in the town, but heard rumours that a main sewage pipe leading out to the sea was suspected of being the cause, if the wind was blowing onshore, but in April this year, all the Medina streets were being excavated to lay new waste water pipes, a major engineering development, and there was a large sign outside Bab Doukalla gate, apologising for the inconvenience, while the works were in progress.
Large diameter concrete pipes were diverting the waste water north beyond the town limits to a new treatment facility "Station d'Epuration" one kilometre further north along a piste from the new police station at the top of Avenue al Aquaba. The concrete pipes were laid along the side of the piste with inspection tanks at regular intervals, and at the Station the waste water was collected in open-air reservoirs, for purification and detoxification, before disposal, I think into the sea, although the pipes must have been underground, I couldn't see the exact location.
I spent a lot of time on this north beach, sunbathing, and didn't notice any unpleasant smell, so the new engineering works must have been effective........
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.
Update May 2013.......The new road connecting Essaouira to Diabat across the road bridge is still unsurfaced over one year later, the stones and gravel underfoot for pedestrians makes walking painful and unpleasant, motorised traffic disregards the 'drive on the right side' rule, as vehicles weave from side to side, attempting to avoid large stones protruding from the carriageway, for how much longer before tarmac is laid is anybody's guess!
- Hiking and Walking
Photography in public places.
I'm an enthusiastic amateur photographer, taking photos of tourist sites and any of my specialist interests, of which I have many, but I like to capture the street scenes in any particular location, which reveals a true insight into the local culture............
But Morocco is a police state and filming sensitive "items" can be risky, in particular filming police is illegal and can lead to fines for the unwary !
So, I am presented with something of a dilemma in pursuing my hobby, but being a determined character, I'm willing to take the odd risk to achieve my objectives.....
The following photo was taken in Essaouira's medina, I was filming a street celebration when a passer-by was unintentionally captured in my field of camera vision and responded with an aggressive glare, fortunately there was no confrontational situation, probably because of the presence of the ubiquitous secret police, who monitor such street celebrations, in case a riot develops.
- Hiking and Walking
Beware the bus station hustlers !
Everytime I arrive by bus at Essaouira Gare Routiere, Avenue Deuxieme Mars (the main bus station), the same old scenario unfolds.......
The exit doors, especially the rear one are beseiged by both the wheelbarrow touts and the key-waving apartment rental ones.
In comparison with Marrakesh, these are "low level " touts, but can still be irritating to dismiss after a tiring bumpy bus ride over the stone desert on some of the old rickety buses. I always just ignore their presence and exit the main gate, turn right and follow the street which eventually leads to the main Medina gate, Bab Doukalla. The wheelbarrow touts want to transport tourists' luggage down through the Medina to whatever hotel is contemplated or pre-booked, because there is no motorised traffic permitted in the narrow streets, but to avoid this potentially rip-off situation, small blue taxis park up close to the bus station, activated by "bush telegraph" whenever a bus is spotted arriving at the bus station. These taxis can provide transport (for a pre-agreed price, not more than Dh20) to the taxi rank at Bab Sb`aa, just outside the Medina at Rue du Caire, from where it's only a short walk to the centre and the port at Place Moulay Hassan.
The apartment rental touts are rather more insidious, I have heard reliable anecdotal evidence that keys will be duplicated, so there will be no total security in any of these properties, personally I always stay in a hotel, much safer..........
Post script......the bus in the photo bears the logo " amazing trip "..........this one is typical of the many private companies' fleet, which I never travel on nowadays, with bald tyres and manic drivers, my nerves can't handle the way they drive on the dangerous mountain roads, I always use CTM, but Supratours are also safe.
The "amazing trip" might not be the safe one you expected !
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Magic fun Afrika
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.
- Water Sports
Beware of street excavations.....
Step out of the taxi and fall down the evil hole!..................
These pictures were recently taken at the taxi rank, Place Orson Welles, Essaouira, two large holes had been dug out on the pavement adjacent to the taxi rank and then abandoned without any safety considerations for pedestrians. This problem is widespread throughout Morocco, and although it may not be too much of a danger for travellers during the long daylight summer, the shorter winter days and long dark evenings would present danger, especially if the street overhead lighting was dim or, as is often the case, non-existent during unexpected lighting failures, caused by corroded underground and overhead power cables.
I always make sure I pack a reliable pocket torch when walking around at night, some of these holes are deep, with sharp pieces of rusty steel reinforcement rods poking upwards, waiting to skewer the unwary!
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- Hiking and Walking
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