Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Portuguese Mogador

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM
When we arrived yesterday in the sun and blue sky, the wind was howling hard and cold. It was still sheep slaughtering festival so very few shops were open and the town looked deserted. All fishing boats were docked at the Port. I began to feel disappointed. Our hotel Souiri was shabby and my room facing the street, was hot and stuffy and dirty, with ants marching angrily across the tile floor and in the bathroom. Strolled through the Port with the gang, and had mint tea with T and S, watching the sun set on the Moulay Hassan square. Dinner was at a restaurant by the sea, overpriced and horribly tasting seafood. Ordered the swordfish and shrimps tagine, but forgot the shrimps were small and didnt even like swordfish. After a week and a half of red meat, had wanted some fish. But should have ordered the calamari instead. The tagine I had here was the worse ever. the sauce tasted bitter. But the seafood soup was good. Most expensive meal I had so far and I didnt even enjoyed it.

Had planned the entire free day on doing some shopping and discovering alleys and ocean views on my own, free of the group. However, D kept tagging along. He and I meandered through the cobblestone alleys and discovered colonial architecture and the signature blue doors and windows. Finally bought a bowl despite it being bigger than I'd have wanted. But the design was Berber. Saw a cute dress. Bought it on impulse. Just love that orange color. D said the blue looked better on me but I just dont care to wear blue. And still I wanted to get a small plate, Berber style of course. Up on the 15th century Portuguese ramparts of the North Bastion, the Atlantic was misty and foggy. However, there was no wind and it's not as cold. Even though the weather was gloomy, the view of the ocean was still gorgeous. We werent sure if the fishermen went out to sea since this was festival week, but by midday the seafood were piled high and displayed at the stalls by the Port.Between us we sampled a whole flat white fish, bunch of calamari and 2 giant prawns each. Simply grilled on open fire with no spices added, and they were so deliciously fresh we've ordered seconds. All this for just 300 dirhams, less than $20 per person, a cheap but satisfying mouthwatering fantastic meal. Although the food was very good so far (mmm, the tagines), this was the best. Best in anywhere in the world I've been. I shall never forget this experience. In the afternoon I've checked in to the Riad Mimouna, right in front of the ocean. I could hear and see the waves crashing on the rocks right below my room window. The Riad room was tastefully decorated in Moroccan style, the bed sheets and pillow cases freshly laundered and crisp, the bathroom clean and in Moroccan tiles, even the toilet water was scented. A world of difference from the dirty cheap hotel Souiri. I didnt think I could stand another night smelling sewage gas in that hotel room. Others had better rooms. S and T had a huge room with 2 double beds and even a TV. Again, with my luck, I was given the worse room. After shopping for local pottery (did find a small plate I like but it had a spot on it and the shopkeeper just couldnt get it off), I spent the afternoon in the hotel terrace surrounded 360 by the ocean. Small Leo was looking out at the ocean, enjoying the view, ecstatic. I bought some cake and had it with mint tea. So peaceful and tranquil, so calm. Love this hotel. This was one of the best decisions I've made for this trip. For 870 dirhams (roughly $108) including breakfast, and for all the Riad had to offer, an outstanding deal. Good decision to not have it booked ahead of time. The price from Expedia and through the Riad website was about $160. When Aziz called the Riad directly, they quoted 2000 dirhams. Good idea of Aziz to book through his agency. I was so satisfied and gloriously happy with this decision. When I finally walked into the room, I jumped up in joy. Aziz and D took a peek at the room and at the view from the windows. Couldnt helped sensing a bit of pride. I dined alone at the Riad rooftop restaurant. I've ordered seafood soup and seafood pastilla and both were tastefully prepared. The pastilla beat the one from Fez a million times over. The crust was flaky and crispy. Just the right way. I was enjoying my tranquil supper when suddenly S, T and D showed up. I had told them they could come and party in my room, but didnt encourage them because I had wanted my peace and quiet to enjoy this hotel. S felt a little out of place and soon left. T and D ordered the pastilla because they saw how I was savoring it. Then I showed them my room and the ocean view. They left to rejoin the rest of the group for an evening of music. I've passed the music, resolved in sticking with plan of aloneness. I've started reading Damage with the sound of ocean waves in the background. Small Leo was still looking out at sea when I finally fell asleep. I've never enjoyed a hotel room so much. In years to come, when I think of Essaouira, I'll reminisce this Riad room, the ocean view and the sound of waves, and how ecstatic Small Leo was.


See Essaouira, the Portuguse Mogador's pictures:

clubhouse party

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