Ok so why am I starting this post with a photo of some goats? Well, I’ll tell ya. Halfway between Marrakesh and Essaouira (I’ll help you pronounce that later) the traveler passes through a large forest of argan trees. Yeah, so? Well argan oil has become a major part of the economy of this part of Morocco.
The goats like the skins from the seeds. They climb the tree and eat them. Then, depending on who you are talking to, the seed itself is either passed out in the dung or spit out.
The argan tree grows wild in the semi-arid soil. The tree’s deep root system helps to protect against soil erosion and the advance of the Sahara. You cannot plant an argan tree. It only grows from the roots. People tried to grow it in Mexico and failed. Therefore argan oil remains one of the rarest oils in the world due to the small and very specific growing areas.
Before modern times, the Berbers of ancient Morocco would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the nutty oil used in cooking and cosmetics. However, the oil used in cosmetic and culinary products available for sale today has most likely been harvested directly from the tree and processed with machines. They took all the fun out of it.
Next time you are in some boutique cosmetic store and you see argan oil, buy some and support some little old Berber lady in Morocco.
I promised, so here is the pronunciation that I like most. Yeah, there are more than one, but I am giving you the Berber pronunciation…eshWEERah.
Essaouira is also renowned for its kite and windsurfing with the powerful trade winds blowing almost constantly onto the protected, almost waveless, bay. The winds, which we were warned about, were not so bad while we were there. They added a nice touch, a refreshing breeze with an attitude. At least I was not tempted to show off my windsurfing expertise. NOT.
Why So Blue?
About the time of Christ, the Berber King Juba II established a Tyrinian purple factory using local shells and rocks. This became the purple used exclusively in Imperial Roman Senatorial togas. It was the first economic boom in Essaouira and I think that is why the color is so prevalent today. I am sure they just buy it at the hardware store now, but heh, tradition is tradition.
Art is more than blue.
Work is more than art.
They have really good and obviously fresh fish, shell-fish, and a wonderful bar. I continue to search around the coconut for a great Bloody Mary, and the Taros bar comes in second.
Seagulls and Sunsets
My overall impression of “Eshweera” is a wonderful vibrant city with friendly industrious people. I was naive to think at first that this town was “Next Best Place”. By that I mean a destination unspoiled by tourism. A place that travelers whisper about to each other, “have you done ____ yet?” But it is not. Hawkers try to sell you sunglasses or watches when you are already wearing both. There are too many people with their hands out. On top of that, every year there is a huge live music festival featuring everything from Berber music to Raggea. An estimated 450,000 people attend. It is not that big of a town. It is certainly not undiscovered.
Supposedly there are other fishing villages further south that are not touristed out, but have the same over-all vibe and beauty. I would like to see them on another trip.
Another trip? Yes, I would love to return to Morocco. If you go to the website of the agent we used Kensingtontours.com. your wanderlust will be tempted by many other places in this wonderful country.
My next post, and last on Morocco, will be a pictorial of doors and ceilings in the country. They take a great pride in mosaic ceilings.
Until then, keep the coconut spinning by sharing this with you FB and real friends.