After spending 11 days in Marrakech and the Sahara Desert we were ready for something a little less hectic so we decided to head to Essaouira. Essaouira is a small fishing village that is commonly referred to as the Wind City of Africa. Needless to say, the wind reminded us of home.
We took the bus from Marrakesh to Essaouira for 80 dirham each (about $10). The ride was about 3 hours. Once in Essaouira, Karim our host, was waiting for us at the bus station to take us to our apartment. Karim not only was kind enough to pick us up at the bus station, but he took us to the bank and the grocery store; then he gave us a tour of the city.
To say our apartment was huge would be an understatement. You see we have become accustomed to small, okay, tiny apartments. This place had two bedrooms, two livingrooms, two bathrooms and a large kitchen. The décor was also incredible, crown mouldings on most of the ceilings, decorative arches/entrances to the open rooms, chandeliers in each living room, beautiful wooden windows and doors, huge comfy couches decorated with African covers and matching pillows, couches you could sit or sleep on (as Len did), hand carved furniture pieces, royal looking drapery, marble countertops and a marble dining table in the kitchen. We are not used to this, but it was great. This apartment was bigger than our house back home. We loved it. Everyone could have their own space. But its funny that it only took about a day before everyone started to congregate to the same room.
Our time in Essaouira was a time to recharge our batteries, do laundry, catch up with emails and of course do some schoolwork. The funny thing is that our family needed some family time. The kind we had a home. Watching movies, playing and not having to do anything or anywhere to be. Just being together.
We fell in love with the relaxed pace of Essaouira; the kindness of the people; the sand dunes at the beach that we can run and play on; the medina that is cleaner and smaller; the tide pools to play in; the cheap 6 dirham (75 cents) taxi fares; the fact it was windy only once while there (our first day); the small grocer across the street that sold fresh buns every morning for a dirham (13 cents); the sight of camels walking down the street; the huge donuts for 2 dirhams (25 cents).
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of our time in Essaouira was when Karim brought us lunch/supper. One night, at around 11:30pm he stopped by to tell us that he was bringing us couscous the next afternoon. We were not sure what that exactly meant. Was he bringing us a meal we would be paying for, or was someone coming to teach us how to make couscous? We decided to just wait for the next day and roll with whatever it was. The next day arrived and we got an email telling us he was running a little behind and the couscous was coming at 1:30. Still we waited. At almost 2 the doorbell rang and Karim was standing there with a huge bowl, covered with a white cloth. Then he quickly walked into the smaller livingroom, put the bowl down on the table, moved the table closer to the sofa then lifted the cloth. There was a largest bowl of couscous we had ever seen. Len went for plates and forks. Karim told him we are to eat it like Moroccans, where everyone eats out of the same bowl. A little embarrassed, Len put the plates back in the cupboard and grabbed the spoons. We all just stared that the large bowl of food, not really wanting to touch it. The vegetables looked so perfectly placed. The carmelized onions on top looked delicious. Karim was so happy to have given us this meal and we were so touched by his generosity. We sat there eating this delicious meal, savoring every bite. Even the kids enjoyed it. The bowl of couscous fed us for about four meals. There was no way we could have eaten it all in one sitting.
It was with sadness when we said goodbye to Karim when he took us to the bus station at 7 a.m. on September 12th. We will remember Essaouira and Karim and great fondness.