I finally was able to add photos to all 9 of my Morocco updates – woo! I didn’t post a ‘Day 10’ because all that happened was breakfast, finishing packing, hanging out for way too long at the airport (and trying to figure out how to spend the rest of our Dirhams) and then taking a taxi to our Airbnb (which was stocked with snacks and 3 large beers. Hooray!) Oh, I also bought a giant bottle of Amarula, which required me to check my bag from Frankfurt to Detroit. And then I got either the flu or food poisoning halfway through our 9 hour flight back to Detroit. That was awful. But I survived, and am looking forward to heading to Disney in a few days. It never stops!
So anyways, for ease of reading, I’m compiling links to each day’s review. Enjoy!
Our entire group would have loved to stay in Essaouira for the rest of our trip (all 28 hours of it,) but unfortunately a driver would be waiting to take us back to Marrakech at 11am. Before we left, I knew I wanted to wander through Essaouira’s port and see the beach once more before starting the journey back to grey Michigan. It was totally a coincidence that we walked through the Medina once more too, as we all figured out the maximum we could spend on souvenirs while 1) having enough money left for lunch and dinner, and 2) not needing to take more money out of the ATM.
Unfortunately, 11am came rather quickly, and we were on our way back to Hotel Akabar in Marrakech. (Well, it was actually closer to 11:30 because Joe and I decided to walk back from the Medina instead of taking a taxi. Oops.)
First thing we did upon returning to Marrakech? Ordered burgers from the restaurant across the street. 5/6 of us. All of the Tagine and Cous Cous we had been eating over the last 8 days was so yummy – don’t get me wrong, but we were excited for something a bit more Westernized. After a late lunch, we spent some time relaxing in our room (orange this time instead of green,) while Jenna went to the airport to pick up the luggage she’d been surviving without for 8.5 days.
Once Jenna returned, we went down into the square for the last time, each with a few ‘musts’ to check off before dinner. One of the ‘musts’? Henna in the square! As hokey and touristy as it seemed, we figured we might as well; it couldn’t be that expensive, right?
As soon as we got to the square, we saw a group of older women basically chomping at the bit to get to work on our hands. We figured there was no harm in asking about pricing – but as soon as we approached them we were barraged with requests to take a seat and discuss, rather than giving us a straightforward price. That should have been the first and only hint we needed to walk away and find another group of henna artists. But no, I decided to fulfill their request of sitting down to discuss a design, price, and henna color. Unfortunately instead of trying to discuss the details, the woman took my hand and went to work; with runny, black henna. I didn’t set a price or choose a design, and she was using black henna instead of brown as I requested. Not only were they charging more for the black henna (“it lasts longer!”) but black henna can be really bad for your skin. Cherry on top? She told me my henna would be 350 Dirhams ($35.) I’m pretty sure I straight up laughed in her face. Darn inconsiderate Americans, am I right?
While I haggled on and off with the woman that did my henna, two of the other girls in our group were able to talk the women down to 100 Dirhams for a specific design and brown henna. They paid ahead of time – smart. As they were finishing up, I got 50 Dirhams out of my bag and told the henna woman that she was either taking 50 or I was walking away. I didn’t say she could start, I didn’t get to choose a design, and I sure as heck didn’t want black henna – so I thought it was more than a fair price. They…didn’t agree. Names were called, there was some shouting, but just as I was about to walk away, they reluctantly accepted my 50 Dirhams. (And we avoided that side of the square for the rest of the night.)
After stopping at a cafe for some mint tea and doing a bit of last-minute shopping (made much more perilous thanks to the ultra-staining capabilities of the wet henna on my hand/arm,) we had our last group dinner where they served PEPSI! My first and only Pepsi of the trip, and my goodness it tasted delish. We did decide to go with Moroccan food for our last meal – Moroccan soup, with lamb cous cous to share. 10/10 would recommend. And would it really be a Moroccan meal if we didn’t end with mint tea? (Hint: the answer is no.)
Eventually it was time to say goodbye to our guide, get some dessert, and retire to our respective rooms to finish packing up. Goodbyes are weird, but I’m pretty sure Ibrahim used up the ‘goodbye weirdness’ quota for the rest of us – plus I think social media makes things a little less “it was nice hanging out with you for 10 days straight, peace out!”
-okay I’ve been starting at this for way too long trying to figure out a way to end it, but I’m just going to type this instead!-
I’ve gotta say…it was SO nice to not have to pack up and head to a new city this morning. We still got up fairly early to walk into town for the first of 3 ATM stops (spent way more money in Essaouira than anywhere else…) before Joe and I went our separate ways for the afternoon! Joe went for an hour of quad-biking on the beach, and I went for a 3 hour horseback ride. With Atlas, the most ornery horse I’ve ever ridden. Not that I’ve really ridden that many horses, but Atlas was somethin’ special. He had two speeds, snail’s-pace or fast trot, and he stopped at pretty much every shrub, bush, and tree for a snack. As frustrating as the ride was though, it definitely was something I’ll most likely never experience again, and I’m so glad I did it! Totally worth the zillions of bruises covering the lower half of my body afterwards.
After showering off horse-stank, Ann and I walked back into the city center to meet up with a few other people for a massage. Horseback riding and massages, two things I can say I’ve done in multiple countries (Horses: Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Morocco, US. Massages: Thailand, US, Morocco, Hong Kong (?)) Anyway. We left our hotel with lots of spare time, but still managed to be late. Not that we had service to run Google Maps, but Google Maps wouldn’t have really helped us in the twisty, turny inner-workings of the Medina. We were able to pull up the general location, but at a certain point we just had to hope we’d find the spa, following sporadically placed signage, intermingled with signage for other spas, restaurants, and Riads. It’s much harder to work your way through the Medina when you’re actually looking for something!
Our masseuses spoke about 8 words of English between the 4 of them, so when I was closed in a dark room – minus one multi-colored flashing light – I assumed it was time to get undressed/on the table. Luckily my presumption was correct, and before I knew it, I was being slathered down in a metric ton of oil.
Now, it wasn’t the best massage I’ve had by any stretch of the imagination, and my masseuse seemed to put extrapressure on my newly formed, extra painful bruises, but the 60 minutes flew by, and I was definitely feeling relaxed by the end of it. Well, relaxed, but SO greasy. My sunglasses wouldn’t even stay on my nose. We took a taxi back to our hotel (50 cents a piece) and I took shower number 3 of the day before we all met back up for some evening shopping and dinner!
My mission for the night was to haggle the price of a pair of linen pants to under 100 Dirhams ($10,) and after way too much effort, I was successful! 95 Dirhams later, we were off to a rooftop restaurant/bar suggested to us by a shop owner, where we could order drinks such as the Essaouira Sling or the Shouting Orgasm. Lol.
Other purchases of the day: a leather duffel bag for Joe, wooden carved camels for my coworkers, and some pottery.