|We still are puzzled at the bus system in Morocco, for our bus to Essaouira we arrived early and boarded the bus at the correct time along with 90% of its capacity, it then proceeded to sit with engine running for an hour at the bus station. Finally a handful more passengers boarded and we were on our way.
Essaouira is a very neat, clean little town - a perfectly turreted wall surrounds the medina and the beach stretches for miles in either direction. We arrived later than expected because of our bus and found that our room we had reserved was about to be given away if we had been another few minutes late. After we put our stuff away we toured the medina - more markets of shoes, shirts, wooden carvings and assorted touristy products.
The next morning we headed off to the bus station to book the next leg of our trip at the gate a dodgy looking man followed us in getting from us that we wanted a bus trip tomorrow to Casablanca. He stearedus past the bus company we have heard of and towards one of many smaller offices. 70 Dh each, it sounded cheaper than we thought and not wanting to offend the man who brought us in we handed over our money wondering if we would see it again. He of course had his hand out for the change of 10 Dh which of course he thought he deserved for walking us all of 25m (average pay per hour is 2.5 Dh we are told).
Soon the bus was the last of our worried as we had to figure out a) where we were b) where we should go and c) how to get there. We followed our noses until we saw seagulls flying closeby and used our sherlock homes skills to deduce we were near the beach. Kylie was keen to go camel riding so we saw what looked like camels in the distance and started towards them. Sure enough they were camels and as we got close a man offered us a ride, being rip-off savy like we now are we asked for a price and were happy to see it was only 100 Dh (10 euros).
Off we went down the beach on our camels headed towards an old wreck of a castle. The water was full of wind surfers and kite surfers enjoying the very gusty conditions. Once we got to the wreck the camels were guided towards the dunes (ultimate 4X4 territory), a little bit scary but they handled it well. Our guide had them running back (a very bouncy experience), after doing well at keeping my hat on all trip a big gust of wind knocked it off within site of home. By the time we got off it was well gone and besides we were both a little shaken and sore.
For lunch we checked out the local fish markets, where several stalls displayed their selection of seafood (the prices were fixed so they competed only on quality and pushiness of their staff). We asked how much a meal of calamari and scampi would be, 180 Dh which seemed very expensive but we assumed we must be getting a lot for our money so we ordered and sat down. When the food came we were disappointed to say the least - two chewy squids and four scampi (each scampi has about half as much meat as a prawn), and to top if off everything was just thrown on a bed of coals. We reluctantly paid and let them know we were not happy, then we went and re-read the sign saying everything was fixed price. As we jotted down the number of the complaint line and started adding what it should have been up the staff came running up 'Wait, wait, wait - we've made a mistake, we forgot you had no fish'. Yeah right but anyway they gave us 50 Dh back and we went away happy we had got one back against the hustlers.
We woke and made our way to the bus station, unsure of what to expect. We got there early, 9:45 for a 10:30 trip but were soon being herded out side where we had to swap our 'reservation' tickets for actual 'travel' tickets at a cost of 10 Dh. Next we went to put our bags in the storage bin at a fee of 10 Dh each, hmmm our saving of 40 Dh each was now only a saving of 20 Dh each after the fees. The bus was not much to brag about windows that didn't seem to be attached to the frame, an overhead compartment that looked to be missing a few screws. We waited at the station until somehow they filled up all the seats and we were off at 10:05, maybe we would still be there waiting if we had waited for the 10:30 as planned.
Much to my suprise the bus arrived in Casablanca in one piece and without breaking down once... phew