Postcards from Morocco (III) – Daytrippin'

The fact that Marrakech is an oasis in the middle of nowhere is confirmed once you've left the metropolis. After two hours en route, the Ouzoud falls —the second bigger in Africa, according to the locals— arise surrounded by a valley that gives birth to yet another oasis. This time a green one.Read more

Postcards from Morocco (II) – Earth, wind but no fire

Abandoning Marrakech is leaving the heat behind. 170km to the west, Essaouira presents itself as a port city full of air, with sun but no heat. The beach is long, the sand is smooth and the wind cools the atmosphere. Air is one of the leading characters in this spot, where you can breathe a peace impossible to find in Marrakech. The sand is another one. Near the beach, the wind punches the land and the water is brownish and calmed. Essaouira is a town full of artisans where seagulls rule, hungry because of the fresh fish sold at the port. But the seagulls can’t control one thing, a wind so strong that rules over all.

Fisherman Port Essaouira, Marrakech
A fisherman wandering around in the Port of Essaouria, Morocco.

Trying to sunbathe in any corner of Essaouira’s beach is a challenge only suitable for brave people. While the tide kicks in several meters in a couple of minutes and forces everyone to retreat, the wind keeps its pulse with those who try to roll out their towel, a towel that will certainly end up full of fine sand.

Only a few men expose their skin. The women are dressed in the same way as if they were going to the market. In the afternoon, the sunset views over the top of some rocks in the far end of the beach is the reward to those who agree to a journey usually tried by quads and camels. Before, at lunchtime, a fish soup is very welcomed, one of the great gifts given by this peaceful fishing town. The sound of the seagulls is the only thing that breaks the voice of the intense wind.

Sunset in Essaouira, by Guille Álvarez
The sunsets in Morocco offer some magical moments like this one in the far end of Essaouira

Essaouira bids us farewell with a dense morning fog that spits water and wind in equal parts. The ambiance today is more relaxed than yesterday, friday, the weekly holiday in Morocco. It’s favorably surprising the quality of the food in practically all restaurants tested. Their hospitality is also praiseworthy. In one restaurant that consists in one single large table, where Moroccans, Germans and Catalans share a tea, clients and owners also share musical instruments. For one night they form a small family. There’s no need to know each other, only improvise and have a good time together. Happiness doesn’t know about languages or nationalities.

by Guille Álvarez
Some kids have fun with the sea in the Port of Essaouira.

Travel and photography in Morocco for Two Decades in the Sun

Postcards from Morocco (I) – City of Chaos

We’ve arrived at Marrakech, a city of chaos. Disarray as a way of living. Pedestrians share the road with all types of vehicles: cars, bikes and carts pulled by horses. Helmets are optional here. Not the veil in girls, though. The heat justifies it. We’re over 40º celsius, sky doesn’t know a thing about clouds and wind burns our faces. Water is of essence; stoping in shades too. It is difficult to figure how people can live in here.

In the hostel everyone is kind, which is normal, we’re tourists and costumers. In the streets, the sympathy of some is excessive. Mistrust and get it right. What they like about you is inside your wallet. I’ve noticed that half of the people here is under their twenties, a phenomenon that I don’t get. I guess that when they grow up they’ll want to leave. Lunch brings us back to life. When we leave the restaurant we already know that getting lost here is not a choice. It’s the only choice. This is the nature of Marrakech.

Old town Marrakech
Roger, the writer of these short observations, contemplating the scenery in the city centre.

Marrakech has another side beyond the old town, an opposite brother with whom he only shares the surname.

The modern part of the capital is completely westernized. Banks, restaurants and shops of universal brands share spots with paved roads and avenues. There’s even parking meter, and that says it all. Where there is more tourism, there is more order. The signs of national identity are still present: the flags of the country —and references to the King— are constant and well visible. In the public gardens, a small disillusion: after a long walk we find out there’s only arid land ahead. It’s probably just summer.

I’m surprised with the choice of football shirts in the streets: Madrid, Atlético and Barça are well represented. Fernando Hierro and Movilla steal the spotlight to Cristiano and Torres for the first two. In the case of the blaugrana, not a trace of Messi: Neymar wins the round.

Menara Gardens without water
A family contemplates the empty pond in the Menara Gardens, Marrakech.