With a few of the people I met from the trip to the Sahara Desert, we went to Essaouira (population 70,000) the following morning. Having spent enough time in a van, we decided that we wanted a taxicab instead of a bus. The cost would be the same since we had five people. In Morocco, one negotiates a price with the driver. At first, he wanted $114 for a round-trip. We stood firm at $91. He balked, but when we started to walk away, he caved. As a student of classical economics, it is beautiful to watch the market forces at play. In Marrakech, the orange juice vendors, excursion operators, food stands, and taxi drivers are selling homogeneous goods and services.
The drive was much faster than in a car, less than three hours each way. In addition, we could dictate when or if to stop. I sat up front, and the two couples sat in the rear. Our vehicle was a standard four-door, five-person car. When a person in the rear said the seat belt did not fasten properly, the driver matter-of-factly said that it was hard to secure a belt across two people. These cars are officially allowed to carry six (6) passengers, two in front passenger seat + four in the rear back seat. So this five-person car actually holds seven.
I have never seen the Atlantic Ocean from Africa, so I wanted to make this trip. After the adventure from the prior days, this journey felt like a breeze.
Upon alighting, the first thing we did was to procure lunch at the fish market. All the fish is freshly caught there. Essaouira feels less dirty than Marrakech because there are so fewer people but more noticeably, the touts are nonexistent. There are a few people trying to sell space cakes and artwork, but the most aggressive guys are these ten fish market stands. They are not annoying though since we voluntarily went to them and played each of their proposals off of each other. We finally settled on $34 total to feed the five of us, including soda, shrimp, squid, and fish. The fish is caught and cooked right before your eyes.
It is pleasant to walk through the souks and marketplace of Essaouira. It is much less crowded and claustrophobic than Marrakech. The city has a beach that is clean, but the water is cold and the wind is constantly strong. The wind is so present that the destination is known for its kitesurfing. I was intent on trying it (€30 for two hours), but I was short on time, and the wind was much stronger than I had anticipated. The wind might have been too much to handle for a beginner.