Saturday 25 November

I was up with diarrhoea during the night, so decide to skip breakfast. We are travelling to Essaouira on the North Atlantic coast today. The bus takes us through desert, and then as we drop onto the coastal plain the land becomes much greener.


Painter


Spices


Castle in the Sand

The town has something of a Greek flavour with its whitewashed houses. The pace is much more relaxed than Marrakech and it is easy to wander in and out of shops without much hassle to buy things. Wooden articles are the main thing here — anything from trinkets to large items of furniture. Most are made from the root of the thuja tree, and have beautiful swirling grain patterns polished to a high gloss.

Up by the waterfront, the Portuguese fortifications stand against the incoming breakers, spray thrown up over the rocks, and a line of canons guards against anything that might interrupt the tranquillity of the place.

To my great disappointment, I am not feeling well enough to brave the ocean but Clare, Lisa, and Charmaine go in while others of us watch from the beech. Afterwards, Dennis, Clare, Jennifer and I walk along the beach to a ruined castle that stands on the edge of the water. From afar, it appears just as an isolated rocky outcrop. As we approach, we see that the rocks are made up of individual stones, and the jagged tops are in fact parapets, leaning at crazy angles. This is the place that inspired Jimi Hendrix’s song ‘Castle in the Sand’. There’s not much of the castle left now; sand was perhaps not the best foundation on which to build...

The wind has picked up and we are hassled by some people already there, so we do not stay long. Walking back into the wind becomes hard work as it gains in strength, and my glasses become caked in salt-spray.

I am not able to do dinner justice at the superb French restaurant where we eat that evening. Mindful of my earlier problems, I limit myself to fish soup, which is quite superb.