Written aboard the Reef Endeavour (a replacement for the ill fated Reef Encounter) in the Fiji Islands. Posted from Christchurch.
After Moulay Bouselham we visited Meknes on our way to Fez. We arrived in Meknes during Ede which is a huge Muslim festival. By tradition, each family must buy or raise a sheep and slaughter it for the feast. You are encouraged to kill the animal yourself but it is important that it be kill properly so many people hire a butcher. This means you might break your fast quite late depending on when the busy butcher makes it to your home.
While the architecture and landscape of Fez is more dramatic, it was still challenging to navigate through the medina. It is substantially larger than the Marrakech median. We eventually hired a guide who took us to the major sights. Unfortunately, several of the most interesting places were active mosques so we were not able to enter. We did tour a old school (there is an Arab word for this). The architecture and ornamentation were excellent. (pictures?)
Hired a guide who kept the beggars away. One small boy tried but slunk away when he realized we had a guide.
While less touristy than Marrakech, Fez was still a challenge. So after a week we split the difference between urban (Fez) and small (Moulay Bousselham) and went to Essaouira.
Essaouira is a beach and resort town on the Atlantic ocean. It is a very popular spot with French tourists and expats. It has everything it needs (cafes, restaurants, hotels, apartments) and one thing it doesn’t. The wind in Essaouira is constant and strong. If you wind surf it is a great place to go. If you want to sit on the beach it can be a bit much. In late Nov, early Dec when we were there they can experience tremendous wind and rain storms. We spent a couple of days hiding in the hotel.
After the storms subsided we moved to an apartment in the Medina. This was less luxuriousness but much closer to the center of things. We shopped at the market, cooked at home and watched fantastic sunsets from our rooftop terrace.
The Essaouira medina was laid back and friendly. We felt welcome in the shops and there was no hard sell. We shopped for some presents and almost bought some cheap leather goods. Unfortunately, the active ingredients of the traditional tanning process (urine and pigeon shit) lend a less than attractive odour to the otherwise beautiful craftsmanship. After deciding not to buy leather presents we read some stories of people who bought leather in arid Morocco only to find their purchases stank when worn in a humid climate.