[ On Christmas Day 2011, I went out on a walkabout to Morocco (first spending the night in Madrid, Spain). This post originally appeared on my old blog in January 2012 when I got back. It was only a few months before I met Allison. This was the trip that inspired me to quit my corporate job to go freelance, and ultimately is the reason I met Allison when I did. ]
Today was the day that I would meet Bathsheba. My fling for the next 4 days. It was a fast and intense romance, and she wanted to try stuff I wasn’t so sure about. But I’m glad I did. :)
Today I’d be leaving Marrakech for the city of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast; a city that would become one of my favorite places that I visited on this trip. [ You’ll see the first leg of this journey in Part 1 of those ‘Morocco on a Motorbike’ videos. ]
There was not a lot to see on the way out there. It was mostly pretty flat and dry for hours until just before reaching the coast, where we got into a little bit of that windy, hilly business. The hills got greener and steeper, then suddenly I came to the crest of the hill and I could see Essaouira and the Atlantic Ocean before me.
I pulled off to a scenic overlook, immediately, where I took a much-needed moment to myself.
I could try to describe what I felt, seeing the Moroccan coastline for the first time, but words would fall short. My heart just beamed and ached with feelings that aren’t really meant for ya’ll anyway. I can say it was one of those perfect moments. I’ve had a few others, in my life. My first solo-flight in a single-engine airplane with a scarlet sunset over Utah Lake. A first honest-to-goodness, forehead pressed against forehead “I love you.” Others that are more private.
And this one.
* * *
I made my way to the city and checked into a big, modern hotel on the outskirts. Behind the counter at reception was a lovely, shy woman who giggled as she tried to speak to me in English and I tried to speak to her in pretend-French. I totally had a vacation crush. But I think she just liked my sexy motorcycle gear.
I dumped my bags and jumped back on the bike to go explore the city.
[ Man I took a ton more photos than what I’m posting here. I just can’t post all of them or we’ll be here all day. Check out more from this trip in our Facebook album, here. ]
Many of these photos were taken from my motorcycle. I seriously just had my camera in my bag over my shoulder and I rode from spot to spot, snapping a few pictures, and just cruising along as the sun slowly set over the silvery Atlantic.
In Essaouira it was illegal to drive any motor vehicle inside the medina (city center), so they had a lot of paid parking around. So I parked and went in on foot.
Essaouira is very much the Seattle of Morocco. It was a lot more artsy and laid back. Quite a contrast to Marrakech, which—as a city—has a very aggressive personality. In Marrakech there was always someone pawing at you, touching you, trying to stop you in your tracks, selling something, promoting a restaurant, begging, even trying to pick your pocket . . . crowds and cars and scooters and constant, buzzing energy. But Essaouira was very different.
Here I was only approached three times; twice to buy marijuana and once to buy a knit cap. I was tempted only by the cap. :)
There were still millions of shops and merchants, but it was so laid back and calm, with a nearly constant, comfortable, sea breeze. I saw a lot of couples here. I can see how it was a more romantic place to visit in Morocco. It was definitely my favorite place that I visited, and I wasn’t even getting it on. :)
At dinner, I was treated to a personal show by an exceptionally talented street-magician named Saladin. Well dressed, with very good English, he dazzled people from table to table with truly astounding, right up in your face, you-touching-the-magic kinda magic. I laughed out loud several times, and tipped him well.
I had brief conversations with a handful of locals here and there. It was a very friendly place. And once again, it was bed time.
Such a good day.