Sunday 26 November

Essaouira main street

The hotel room is quite basic. It has no window to the outside world, and the empty space above the door lets in every sound echoing around the central atrium during the night.

The morning provides an opportunity to explore more of the town and do a little shopping for souvenirs and presents. There is less room for haggling than in Marrakech — that is, the prices start at a more reasonable level — but the quality seems to be generally good. Further into the town is a meat and vegetable market.

Moroccan footie

Jardin Menara

I spend the rest of the morning relaxing on the beach. A young man in a black djellaba is showing off football tricks. We begin a game of frisbee and are immediately besieged by three small children who want to join in, and end up polishing off Hillary’s bag of dried fruit.

On our return to Marrakech we make a brief stop at the Jardin Menara. A pavilion stands at the end of a large formal pool filled with vicious fish that make the surface boil every time a piece of bread is thrown in. In the distance, the Koutoubia Minaret next to our hotel is visible.

We are back at the hotel just in time to hit the souks for one last shopping spree. I want to find a carpet on which to blow my last couple of hundred dirham. I spend some time in one shop choosing, but finally the owner is not willing to come down to my price. Across the way, Clare manages to bag one for 250 Dh. The challenge is laid down and regalvanised, while Clare heads back to the hotel, I find another likely looking shop. There is some protracted haggling, and finally I have just what I am after for 270 Dh. I even go through the act of counting out the last few dirham in one dirham coins to ‘prove’ that this is the final dregs of my holiday money!

I didn’t tell him about my real last 100 Dh, and I manage to spend half of this on some brochette skewers. Unfortunately, the shop keeper’s attempt to relieve me of the full 100 Dh after we have agreed on the price of 50 leaves a bad taste in my mouth — the first real trouble I have had here.

The group

Back at the hotel we compare our booty and then commence the packing nightmare. How on earth am I going to get all those plates back in one piece?

We end the evening on the roof terrace of the hotel with much wine and merriment. It’s time to use up spare pictures in our cameras. It is quite late when I finally retire to bed, and I leave the door propped open for Clare.