After a good night's sleep we wander around the medina once again, looking at the various items for sale. There is nothing more we really want to buy, although it is interesting just to watch people as they go about their everyday lives, women doing their shopping for meat and vegetables, beggars meandering through the crowds on the lookout for a generous soul, children chasing each other in and out of puddles newly formed by men cleaning their shop fronts with buckets of water, dogs sleeping in the middle of pavements under the hot African sun. One word to describe this scene - LIFE - and it is here in abundance!
|View over the town|
|Looking out to sea from the Skala (fort)|
|Everyone comes out for a stroll late afternoon|
|cleverly painted boat|
|Blue fishing boats at the port|
We've decided today to take a look at the fishing port as Essaouira is renowned for its huge trawlers and small fishing boats which between them catch enough fish to be shipped all over the country of Morocco. This is indeed a busy old place. We meet a fisherman named Hassan who has been fishing in these small blue boats that line the port for about 40 years now, and he takes us on a tour of the port explaining what is happening as we see it. We are very privileged as he takes us to the areas that tourists never see - he explains to us the different types of nets used for catching different fish, he tells us about the joys of eating Conger Eel in a tagine, how the hooks are baited before leaving the port and arranged around the outside of boxes so as not to get tangled up...but most importantly he explains how the port is the heart and soul of Essaouira and how in recent years investors wanted to make the port into a marina rather than a working port - this proposal was fortunately declined. Later we watch the trawlers coming in. Hassan tells us when they are still quite a distance away that the catch is good - he knows because of the depth of the boat as it glides through the water and by the sheer number of seagulls that follow the boat to the shore. Listening to Hassan and watching the scenes before me reminds me of Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea' - this man too is a seasoned fisherman who know the trade like the back of his weather-beaten hand. Then he shows us the large boats that have recently been battered by storms. Armies of men are aboard, some welding, many with hammers - all trying to ensure that these huge vessels will be fit once again for duty. There is no fancy machinery, just plain hard graft from these men day after day. They know this is their only chance of a livelihood.
|Trawlers and small fishing boats|
|Life at the port|
|The oldest boat in the port|
|Lazy dog lying on the nets|
|Waiting for the trawler|
|The trawler coming in surrounded by seagulls|
|Locals sell some of the fish|
|fish heads await the seagulls|
|...fighting for the spoils|
|fish are packed in ice and loaded on lorries for shipping|
After a very interesting day out where we have gained a new insight into the fishing industry in Essaouira, it is time for an early night.
Unfortunately, Mart is suffering from a bout of food poisoning so we're heading off home this morning, a little earlier than anticipated. A walk along the lovely sandy beach beckons but he is just too ill, so reluctantly we decide we will just have to come back another time...it's a hard life! On the way back, however, we manage just to get one photo of the renowned Argan goats, so called because they climb the Argan trees to eat the nuts. I am amazed to spot this scene at the side of the road. As we stop the car, a little girl comes running to us holding a baby goat in her arms and asking for money - she is obviously used to doing this, and of course people give her money. We are just about to do the same when I suddenly realise there's something strange about this scene - you never see goats just standing on these trees, they are always eating the leaves and nuts - but these ones are just standing there staring at us. It dawns on me that the goats have either been tied to the tree or are in fact stuffed ones and not real at all! Cheeky Moroccans, some of them will do anything for a few dirhams!!!!
|Real or stuffed? You decide......|