Patience is a photographer's best friend
Having worked as a theatre photographer for more than two decades it seems that I’ve developed a very specific love for working in an environment with very little light.
Early in the morning it is still quiet in Essaouira, which also makes it a perfect time to shop. There are no pushy snake charmers, street traders, or wheezing shopkeepers putting you off buying something before you have even looked at it.
The most varied products imaginable are displayed for kilometers on end in the souks: herbs, goats’ heads, mirrors of polished camel bone, and beautifully worked silver jewelry. Veiled women jostle each other at the fish stalls, bearded men smoke hookahs in the tea houses.
In the medina, the old walled town of Essaouira, there are many small shops specializing in furniture and utensils made of inlaid thuja wood. Connoisseurs say you can find the best value for money in the world here.
They are made in the dusty workshops of local artisans in the backstreets of the souk, like Abdel Nasser Boumzzourh, who sells designer thuja-wood furniture to Yves Saint-Laurent and Valentino.
You are welcome to wander in and watch them while they are at work. Some of them will sell things to you directly; it’s cheaper and more fun than buying from a souvenir shop.
For those who are not so keen to haggle, there are woodworking cooperatives, where the prices are fixed, which is just as easy if you don’t want to spend an hour negotiating over a small object.
Tired and burdened after a full morning of shopping, I head back to my hotel. It seems unavoidable that my house is going to have a new, eastern impetus. I tell myself that Ikea is more expensive.