Friday, May 7, 2010

Backpacking through Morocco Part 5: Essaouira

[Note: This post is part of a series.  You will find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.]

April 2, 2010
We got up at 6.30 to pack up all our bags and make it to the bus station by 8.30.  Walking into the bus station is quite an experience.  When you step foot inside, at least six people from different bus companies will all come up to you, asking where you're going, listing all the main cities.  Some might grab for your arm, and try to take you to their company's ticket window.  And as soon as you say "We're going to _____." then you're stuck.  They assume you'll go with them,

We only wanted to find out the departure times and prices of the companies, to see if it would be cheaper to bus or cab.  But as soon we found out that info from one of the workers, he assumed that we'd be buying tickets.  He got really upset when we told him we couldn't buy any tickets just yet because we were meeting two other friends (Elena and Jordi), and had to wait for them.  Rather than continue to argue with him or deal with the other five people trying to get us to go with their company, we just got the heck out of there and got some coffee and bread at a nearby café.

I think the bus tickets were around 70 durham, so 7 euro per person.  We asked a worker at the café about a taxi, and he told us a taxi would be 600 durham from there to Essaouira.  Between 6 people, that's only 10 euro a person.  10 euro for a 2.5 hour cab ride!  When Elena and Jordi arrived, we talked about our options outside of the bus station and decided to split a cab, as it'd probably arrive faster than a bus, and just be more pleasant than a bus full of people.

The man who we had talked with earlier in the bus station spotted us outside, and tried to get us to buy tickets again.  We told him we were going to go in a taxi instead.  Well then he wanted to call for our taxi (I think they receive a commission or something).  Ok, fine.

The weird part was that they wanted us to pay in full before we left.  We were all a bit wary of this, and Jordi - who spoke a bit of French - asked if we couldn't pay half now, and the other half upon arrival.  Nope, they wanted it all now.  So Jordi talked to the man and basically told him that after we pay, you'd better get us to Essaouira, or else.  So we paid the guy, and then he goes and runs across the street with our money.  A couple minutes later a different man came back, our driver.

We made it there just fine.  Our driver even stopped an hour or so into the ride, without us asking, so we could have a pit stop.

Walking down the main street, we couldn't find the side-street we needed to get to our hostel.  After walking all the way to the end and back of this main medina-street, we decided to look for other lost people and see if they were going to the same hostel - or had a map.  Just as we decided to do this, we thought we heard some English nearby.  We turned behind us, and a man and women were looking at a map, talking in English.  We asked them where they were going, and they were headed towards the same hostel!  I had directions printed out from the Supratours bus stop, but we had come a different way (since we took a taxi).  This woman had directions to the hostel from the other bus stop, where our taxi had dropped us off.  So as four became six, we headed off with correct directions this time, and easily found the hostel together.

After checking in we lied under the sun up on the roof for a while:

Had lunch overlooking the coast:

Got after-lunch crepes.  Walked around the medina.  When we got back to the hostel around 5-6pm, Mike and I were so tired from the past couple days of travel with such early wake-up times, we decided to take naps.

...and then I woke up and found out it was 10pm.  So I brushed my teeth, put on pjs, and continued sleeping through the night.  Guess I had a lot of sleep to catch up on.

April 3, 2010
We had a 3 euro breakfast of an omelette, fresh (and real) orange juice, tea/coffee, and yet again that delicious Moroccan bread.

It was really windy, but we headed to the beach to walk around a bit and to watch people kite surf.

Later I read up on the roof for a while.  We hung out with some Brits and Australians from our hostel. Went to dinner. Crepes. And such, and such. Sleep.

April 4, 2010
We had breakfast at a nearby pastry shop, after which we loaded up on pastries for the train ride later that night.  Spent more time in the medina, then more time reading on the roof.

Around 2.45 we went to the Supratours bus stop to get tickets for the 3.30 bus back to Marrakech, where we would then take an overnight train to Tangier, followed by a 2.5 hour bus ride to Chefchaouen.  We waited in line with the rest of the crowd at the bus station until it re-opened after lunch.  Found out the 3.30 bus was sold out.

So we walked to the other end of town and found a taxi to take us back to Marrakech.  150 durham each, so it wasn't too bad.  Waited in the Marrakech train station for about an hour and a half until our 9.05pm overnight train arrived.  It was a long night of trying to sleep in upright train seats, but our destination proved to be worth the day of travel.

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