After 5nights in Marrakech we headed for the Atlantic coast at Essaouira passing many vineyards and apple orchards and olive groves. Closer to Essaouira were many Argan tree groves and we stopped at one of the factory outlets to see how the Argan oil was produced from the nuts of the Argan trees. The main avenue and seaside road was beautifully planted with trees and flowers like the entrance to most cities and towns around Morocco. Even the small villages were neat and clean. There was usually one spot where all the rubbish was dumped.

Essaouira, a seaside resort on the Atlantic was an interesting city with a lovely beachfront and interesting fishing harbour and ramparts left from the Portuguese time there in the seventeenth century. It was a major caravan port for slaves and goods from southern Africa on their way to Europe. The ramparts were modernised over a century later and were very impressive overlooking the city and Mogador island where the Romans had centuries before constructed a villa. A very strong wind was blowing as we came into town and as walked around the colourful fishing harbour and up onto the ramparts.

The old town had many cafes, restaurants and tourist shops selling leather,carpets and many wooden articles as well as peanuts and dried fruit. We had a good walk around town and went back to our car minder with his fluoro jacket, paid him and went to our campsite on the edge of town which was a severe let down after our last 5star stay! We however decided to move further up the coast the following day but a fellow French camper showed us that we had a flat tyre on our way out of the campsite. Luckily it was Sunday in Morocco and so the local service station called a very friendly repairer who was there in ten minutes on his scooter and who fixed the tyre for 150dirhams or $20 and we were on our way again.

The drive from Essaouira to Safi along the coast was a very interesting one. There were many fancy houses built close to the coast near Essaouira and after a few kilometers this gave way to an enormous amount of industry and factories and a very large port construction. There were so many horse and carts – open and some with flimsy covers carrying people and others carrying hay and sand and various other goods.

After seeing so many police checkpoints on the road all over the country where we were just waved through, we were stopped at one and asked for a driver’s licence. Maurice gave over his licence and he said he wanted mine. I threw my hands up and he then looked properly and saw the wheel was on the other side of the vehicle. He started to laugh and we all did including his fellow officers who would have given him a hard time afterwards!

The air was lovely and clear and clean after we had passed the factories and we then came to many stone walls sectioning off land for future houses and areas for livestock and then a beautiful patchwork of crops and arable land which stretched down to the coast. Roadside stall were selling tomatoes and pumpkins of all varieties.

Safi on the coast and on the way up to Casablanca was another walled town and El Jadida also on the coast was not as affluent but had some interesting buildings and there was a lot of contruction in the city. We passed seas of new appartments in various stages of readiness and we were even given leaflets on the road about new residences which were under construction. Morocco was another country it seemed on the move with all the new habitation and many new cars on the road.

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