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We again started our morning with pastries and mint tea from Gian, this time with the addition of vanilla yogurt. The weather was perfect: sunny and in the upper 70's, so basically the opposite of Portland.
Abdu picked us up and took us on the three-hour drive to Essaaouira. Being a passenger in a car in Morocco is an experience that definitely takes getting used to. Most drivers have a fast and aggressive style that includes a lot of honking and close calls. The harrowing drives added a sense of ruggedness to the journey and made it that much sweeter every time we reached our destinations. In the middle of this drive, we stopped to look at goats in an argan nut tree.
Along the way, we also stopped at an argan oil-producing facility. We watched as women squeezed the nuts by hand to create the oil, which really makes me think about the amount of labor that goes into our products. Here, we stocked up on honey, almond butter, lotions and soaps to bring back to our families.
Abdu dropped us off near the beach and we walked around the marketplace. The stalls here were much more laid back than those in Marrakech: most of the prices were fixed and there was no hassling or haggling. We bought a few trinkets for our nieces and nephews and were relieved when we didn't have to put our nonexistent bargaining skills to the test.
We ate lunch along the pier at a place Abdu recommended. I ordered a cheese omelette. Mike had salad, fried sardines, and salmon tagine. You know you're in a committed marriage when you can watch someone eat around fish bones and still love him. We were sitting outside, which was lovely until we were joined by a flock of seagulls and several cats. There are feral cats everywhere in Morocco, which is why as a non-cat person I found myself saying, "I could live here if it weren't for the cats" more than once. The food was tasty and we split a bottle of sparkling water and a caramel dessert.
We walked along the beach with our bare feet in the sand and enjoyed the perfect weather. In hindsight I realize I should have at least touched my toes into the water to test the temperature, but at the time we were content to stay on the beach. We sat for awhile on a wall, looking out at the water and taking it all in.
We walked back to the main square and bought a few more gifts for our family. We also picked up some pastries from a street vendor, which was exciting because they seemed to have an endless assortment and we could pick and choose what we wanted and pay by the pound. We had some time to sit outside at a restaurant and enjoy some mint tea (for me) and espresso (for Mike) before Abdu picked us up to take us back to Marrakech.
The ride home was as treacherous as ever but I was starting to get used to Moroccan driving and getting better about just not watching the road too much (what I don't know can't hurt me). I know I sound like such a repressed Portlander every time I say this, but I just could not believe how clear the skies were and how perfect the sun felt on our skin.
When we arrived home, Gian fixed us vegetarian tagine, mint tea and fruit cocktail. I took a hot bath in our big bathtub and we spent the rest of the night relaxing and reading. I think our first two nights were marked by jet lag and a general feeling of being overwhelmed with sensory overload, but this was the day I started fantasizing about what it would be like to stay in this beautiful country and just never come home.