In the interest of an even division of labor, this post contains the rest of Morocco in both food and culture. More importantly, it includes our first photographed camels. If you don't have time to read the whole post, just scoll down and see the camels and then you can go back to doing something useful. Okay, here we go:
This is the last food picture we have from Marrakech. It looks similar to another picture in the last post because I like vendors by night. This one is of a sweets vendor, though. I asked him if we could arrange a challenge where if I ate everything in this picture in an hour that it would be free, but he was clearly scared of me and declined.
After Marrakech, we went to Essaouira, which you will note has all the vowels. If you are nerdy like me, you might know other words with all the vowels, like sequoia or facetiously (my favorite since it has all the vowels and y in order). Essaouira is a beach town, but it was cold and rainy for most of our stay, so we didn't go to the beach. We did, however, have some really good food when I made us go to the cheapest restaurant I could find that had exactly one other couple dining there. This was my chicken cous cous. And on that note, we had a question about what exactly cous cous are. Cous cous is a pasta, just very small. You can then put whatever you like on it. So, if you took a hammer and crushed spaghetti until it was tiny, it would basically be cous cous. Mine is topped with chicken and vegetables here.
Tara took this picture mostly to note my extraordinarily long facial hair. And that the dessert we were eating was very vaguely yogurty. Since I hate yogurt, she was very happy to get me taking a bite on film. Like an earlier comment I made about chocolate, I guess that if you have very weak yogurt and add enough sugar and flavoring, I can bring myself to eat a few bites.
Essaouira has lots of spice sellers, all of whom like making giant pyramids out of the spices. And they all really want to sell us these spices. This might make sense if we were headed home, but we aren't. Also, it seems a sure-fire way to get searched by drug enforcement. It's spices, really!
We found a donut man who made these tasty donuts in Essaouira. The first day they were 25 cents each. The second, he tried to raise the price to a dollar. Morocco is like that and we experienced it many times. We then had to have a ten minute argument with him before finally paying 35 cents on the second trip.
Essaouira was a French fortress town on the water. The cannons have really nice views of the ocean. I took this during a couple hours of sunny weather that we had one day.
Now it is a fishing town. Here are the hundreds of fishing boats after they had returned for the day. Most of them sell their fish right there at the pier to local restaurants and buyers. At many restaurants, you walk up and pick your fish from the day's catch and they fry it for you. The many fish also make this part of town a favorite for the sea gulls.
We stayed an extra day in Essaouira because we had a nice hotel and because Tara has been trying to work on her writing. She did a good job and spent the better part of a couple of days in this area, which she dubbed her writing nook. Soon she will hopefully have a book to sell so that we don't have to find jobs when we go home next year.
Then we started our trip south towards Mauritania. We spent 24 hours on a bus (well, two buses) to get to Dakhla, Morocco, which is the southernmost major city. It was much more modern than we expected and is beautifully set on the ocean. It is in the Western Sahara, which is a disputed area that Morocco claims, but whose rule no one completely accepts. Having said that, they clearly oversee it at present.
Here is a nice sunset in Essaouira. Pictures were out of order, but I don't have enough time to fix them. It had been a bit rainy, but cleared up for sunset. These are from the roof of the hotel where we were staying.
People in southern Morocco start to dress more like what you expect in the desert. The bigger guy on the right turned out to be Omar, our taxi driver the next day for the 10 hour trip to Mauritania.
This is actually our second camel sighting, but the first that we got pictures of. Hooray for camels! Everyone thinks we are really funny that we get excited about them. Several people have been surprised to learn that we don't have camels wondering around America. Most camels here are owned by someone, but they let them wonder around the desert looking for grass to eat.
That does it for Morocco. We really like much of Morocco. We sometimes felt like the people were trying to hustle us, but the markets were amazing and the food was good. On to Mauritania!