Thursday, 20 March 2014

19th March

OiLibya for an O'Clean and the truckers mosque.
Before we left town, we decided to get the car washed as it was brown with accumulated dust and looked awful.  We chose the 1st petrol station we saw which happened to be Oi Libya.  For less than £2 the car had the most thorough wash it has ever had - we were worried than any loose bits of body work might fall off!!  They even opened the 2 front doors of the car and managed to blast the inner door frames with the pressure hose without soaking any other part of the car - quite a feat! Also, if we felt the need there was a mosque!

We then headed for Essaouira further north and on the coast. What we wanted to see goats in trees. We knew there was the “Goat Tree Tourist Trap” en route, which we planned to avoid as we wanted to see the real thing rather than a goat tied up in a tree and 10 D’s for picture of you holding a goat. We also wanted to see the cascades at Imouzzer. That required going cross country and relying on the sat-nav and the map – uh oh! After turning off from highway N1 we climbed and climbed, the views were stunning and snow capped mountains picked out from the haze in the distance. The terrain was dotted with Argan trees which grew more and more stunted as we climbed. 

Yet more stunning scenery
We reached Imouzzer and followed directions to the cascades. Hmmm, I’m sure the cascades are stunning when they’re flowing, but not today. As we had noticed road distance counters to Essaouira along the road we decided to continue following the map and the sat-nav. As we dropped the other side of Imouzzer the scenery changed again to more lush vegetation especially in the valleys below. Some distance on we saw what we had been looking for, goats in Argan trees that were not tied there as a tourist con. We continued after much photo taking and eventually we came to a reservoir that was not marked on our map or the sat-nav. Tamsin slowly drove over the dam until we came to a barrier. Fearing the worse as a soldier appeared I would the window down. All he wanted to know was did I have a cigarette as he raised the barrier – phew!!
Real goats up the argan tree....

Shortly after we approached the main road to Essaouira and turned north. Arriving at Essaouira we had to leave the car parked outside and walk into the medina as our hotel was inside and there are no cars allowed inside. As we walked through the medina we bumped into Jane and Michael who we had arranged to meet there. After a brief exchange we parted to meet later for dinner. Our hotel was on the north outer seawall of the medina and had the waves crashing below - a great location.

Cannons on the ramparts
We did a brief foray around the town and got onto the ramparts with a long row of impressive looking cannons.  The view from the ramparts is fantastic as they’re literally on the sea edge as is our riad.  We then wandered around various fairly similar looking alleys all lined with shops.  Strangely, there was no hassle from the merchants and most things seemed to be fixed price – I almost missed the hassle and haggling from before!  There are also loads of cats here in all shapes and sizes – most of them in very good condition.  The same can’t be said of the people.  We haven’t seen so many beggars anywhere else or deformed or crippled people or others seemingly somewhat deranged and obviously suffering from mental problems.  Initially we liked the feel of the town, but scratch very lightly under the surface and the seedy, scruffy and slightly unsavoury nature of the place soon becomes apparent.

We all met up back at the hotel at about 6pm and went to have a drink in a bar overlooking the ocean. It was pretty chilly due to the strong cold wind coming off the ocean and it wasn’t long before we were the only people mad enough to be there.  So, we decided to forgo a 2nd drink and go to the restaurant next door early.  There we had a very nice fish dinner ( Michael had lamb) and I had the best John Dory I’ve ever had whilst Chris had the largest sole I’ve ever seen!  After dinner we decided to have a night cap back at the hotel only to discover tht it’s a dry hotel – Qeul horreur!!  So, we broke into our emergency supplies and had our last bottle of Spanish plonk which was just the ticket.

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