Everyone’s favorite place in Essaouira is the impressive, ten-kilometer-long sandy beach.
It begins at the harbor as a narrow, dingy strip, but a little further up it is already hundreds of meters wide. A long row of dunes borders the beach outside of the town. I think I am on the edge of the Sahara, particularly when a couple of camels come shuffling through the shifting sand. Apart from a few sun-worshippers, who mostly stay on the stretch of beach nearer the town, this is the territory of the kite and wind surfers.
Boys and girls with long, blond hair, polished sunglasses and browned bodies spend most of their time in the water. Because, besides the sun and the sea, Essaouira has another attraction: wind. Each year surfing competitions are held here, which count towards rankings in the World Cup. In the evening, when the sun has lost its intensity, the Souiries come to the beach to enjoy their favorite pastime: parading. Young men fanatically play football; groups of girls manage to flirt with them from underneath their veils. Parents spread out small mats and sit drinking sweet tea from a thermos flask while their children play along the tide mark.
I have never seen such big seagulls. “And they’re lazy, too,” says Abrahim, who, together with his son, runs a stall selling fish on the beach. Together we conclude Essaouira is a paradise for seagulls. In the evening the harbor turns into an enormous open-air restaurant. The day’s catch is prepared on countless barbecues. Sardines cooked in 101 different ways, tajine (a steamed dish) of conger eel, couscous with mussels, quiche with sea urchins, or ‘ordinary’ lobster. The restaurants on the seafront, such as the celebrated Chez Sam, mainly serve seafood.
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