The weather has been bad on Morocco's Atlantic coast; hopefully the worst is behind us. Agadir, the European tourist concrete jungle where we landed, was hazy-sunny with T-storms and 18 degrees, but the wind was high there, too, and the surf looked rough. As we travelled north along the coast, it got cooler and rainier.
It has rained so much in Essaouira that parts of it look almost like Venice when we visited in November. Before cutting inland, the road out of Agadir passed by miles of wild Atlantic beach with 10-foot surf -- I guess reef breaks or underwater cliffs. The water was yellow with churning sand and it looked like new sandbars were in the process of formation. Based on wunderground.com, we thought it had just been cool and rainy, but it really has been storming, and even the fishing boats at Essouira have been laid up and the fish markets are said to be fairly bare.
Everything went really smoothly from Tallinn-Stockholm ferry...the kids' museum in Stockholm...flights were more or less on schedule.
We were picked up at Agadir airport by the excellent Isham, a friendly, cosmopolitan-seeming Marrakshi. Because it was a three-hour drive to Essaouira, we stopped at a supermarket at a surfer village outside Agadir and since I had gone inside the shop, Isham went with Morgan to pee, my wife freaking out when they disappeared for a while but then they came back and he had bought Morgan a Snickers.
170 km later, we arrived in Essaouira at Place Hassan Moulay, just outside the medina, and the infamous wind was every bit was ferocious as they said it would be.
We're renting a small riad, or townhouse, in the medina, which is a lot better deal than a hotel. The riad has a open atrium/stairwell and a room on each floor and an amazing interior design. It's a little impractical for kids, and I'm nervous about the long flights of tiled stairs, but it has some good features.
One of the owners (an extremely nativized English couple) took me on a whirlwind tour of the medina, mainly from the point of subsistence and shopping tips -- I tried my best to keep up and retain as much information as possible, but it wasn't easy. Luckily the medina, though labyrinthine, has an 18th century European military-style layout; it's not Fes or Marrakech, where apparenrly people get lost and sometimes never surface.
I hadn't even studied the local currency or coins when I embarked on the tour of the medina with Graham. My French also completely deserted me, so it was probably a pretty pathetic sight. Every merchant was honest, though. I'm pretty sure I bought a bottle of Morcocan gris wine for 45 darahim (about 60 Estonian kroons or 5 USD). Who knew there was wine in Morocco, anyway? I hadn't considered drinking here, but after 48 hours on the road since Tallinn, it was just the thing; I'm glad we arrived Thursday and not Friday. Then we popped into a bakery that was a dark hovel with a glowing kiln and I sorted through a bunch of bread by hand to pick the ones I wanted, all of them still oven-temperature, paying about 2 EEK for three loaves. This is where it started hitting me that I was in a medieval village. Supposedly there is a supermarket in the new town, but I doubt I will make it there...