I've just gotten back from a weekend in Essaouira - which is an amazingly gorgeous city, and with which I'm now completely in love with. From start to finish, there were picturesque views all around. I drove (well, the bus driver did) up the coast from Agadir to Essa, which is reminiscent of the Californian coastline - stunning. The city itself consists of the old medina and the new city; we spent most of our time in the old medina, which is all whitewash walls with blue trim, a maze of windy narrow alleyways, and little shops selling the traditional wares of the area - one of which is wood-carved objects, since the Essaouira region is rich with a wood called Thuya, which is in the cypress tree family, and as I learned, is becoming increasingly rare.
We - myself and three other volunteers - spent the weekend wandering the streets of Essaouira, eating 5 dh fish sandwiches, strolling on the beach, lounging in the sun (when it was out) on the breakwaters in the port, and watching the sunset on the ramparts of the medina. And we were staying in an amazing riad, with four floors and a lovely roof, from which we had spectacular views of the city. It was a bit chilly and rainy while we were there, since it's rainy season at the moment, although there's not been a whole lot of rain in either the Essa region or my region. It was super nice to get away for the weekend - not that I don't like being where I am - but for the simple reason that it's nice to be able to speak and joke in English, and be understood, not given blank stares (well, I suppose that depends on the joke). We were able to commiserate about tough situations regarding rubbish disposal, among other things, and cheer each other on, seeing as we're all in the same stage of trying to figure out where we fit in each of our situations. We also decided that we have an amazing group of people here with us, and that we are all gangsters, baby.
Sunday we also ventured to one of the other volunteers' sites - which is about an hour from Essa, out in the countryside, which is very pretty in that region. This volunteer, in my opinion, has a hardcore Peace Corps site - no running water, no internet reception, and about 250 people in the village. Water is brought to him twice a week by a young boy with a donkey, and the walk for drinking water is 30 minutes each way when that is needed. I arrived home incredibly appreciative of my running water. I also learnt of another volunteer with a 12km trek in to her site from the nearest main road. I'm super impressed with those of us who are basically camping for two years in the Moroccan outback. It's a challenge for everyone just in terms of working out daily life without those extra obstacles thrown in the way - so well done them.
We were racking our brains this weekend for who wrote the song that was supposedly written in Essaouira - it was Jimi Hendrix, but I was disappointed to learn that he didn't write "Castles in the Sand" about Essa - since the song was written two years before he visited there. Fun fact.
And my venture out of site did in fact end in cheese. Yummy blue cheese. Mission accomplished.