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In the Essaouira Morocco Podcast:
We spent one month in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic west coast. We explore some of the most “freshest” local food markets in the world, discover the winding backstreets and history of the medina and find a local massage that was more than we bargained for…
Feature Topics in this episode:
- Shopping for the freshest raw chicken – So fresh it’s still warm!
- The history behind The Essaouira Medina and fortress
- The largest lounge we’ve had in an apartment – ever! Only $350 a month.
- Kitesurfing on the atlantic coast
- The massage of death!
- Amazing fruit and veg markets and the secret to finding good tagine in Morocco
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Weblinks & Mentions from Essaouira Morocco Podcast
World Nomads Insurance* – Specifically designed for digital nomads, flashpackers, adventure & long term Travellers – Get a 5% Discount with our coupon code: FOOD5
Finding The Backstreet Market in the Medina: South From Bab Dukhala, take a right after the Olive selling stalls.
Essaouira FFA Article: http://foodfuntravel.com/essaouira-morocco-guide-food-fun-adventure/
Kite Surfing Company* – Explora Morocco (Essaouira kitesurfing)
Phone: UK: +44 7 738 563 883 / Moroccan: +21 2 611 475 188
Khadija’s Kuzina, The cooking class in Essaouira Morocco – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Khadijas-Kuzina/785288798223501?fref=ts
The Local Hammam in Essaouira – Eranouk
This is an unedited and only partially accurate transcript of the content of this episode. Listening to the full episode means you’ll get the full experience with the live clips from Morocco as well as all our usual fun tangents and thoughts. Go listen!
welcome back to the Travel Freedom Podcast!
We are back with 5 new episodes, one for each week of February! And then in March we’ll be taking an off month again because we are running our Travel Blog Monetization virtual summit.
So, if you want to learn more about how travel bloggers really make money, with in depth, actionable content, talks and worksheets, got check out travelblogsummit.com for more info, as well as a bonus offer if you pre-register free this month.
Do it! The landing page looks super pretty – we built it with optimizepress, which is a tool we use all the time for our blogs and we talked all about it back in travelfreedompodcast.com/056
So, anyway, if you want to make an income on the road, check out travelblogsummit.com to find out more about what is happening in March!
But, in todays episode, we are heading to the atlantic coast of Africa. To Essaouira, Morocco.
you may remember earlier last year we talked about living in a palace for $350 a month. It was stunning. Well, there was a lot more to living in Essaouira than having a 30 seat tea lounge in our apartment.
in todays episode we’ll be talking about the food, the history and one of the most unusual massage experiences we’ve ever had. Well, I’ve ever had, at least.
Yes, you’ll be glad to know, story corner is back! It’s been a while, and this promises to be a triumphant return. That’s coming up nearer the end of the show.
First, lets talk about eating local in morocco.
As I think we mentioned in previous episodes, going to a local restaurant to eat morrocan food, typically did not work out well. We ate out quite a few times in the vain hope of getting a good, tasty meal that lived up to the expectations of a national cuisine so steeped in history and spices.
Cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, saffron, paprika and pepper.
As well as the “Ras El Hanout” which literally translates to “Head of the shop” and is a secret blend of spices that every spice merchant makes their own way.
Put your face in a bag of it an inhale the scent. You won’t regret it. It’s a complex and full force spice mix that will make your cous cous pop.
Still, with all these flavours abundantly available, restaurant food was lacklustre. In fact, the only restaurant meals we really enjoyed were french cuisine. The morrocan food was terrible.
But we discovered that, to get truly authentic morrocan food, lovingly prepared correctly, you have to eat in the homes. Turns out Morrocan people don’t really eat Morrocan food when they go out. So most restaurants put on a pretty basic and bland version of the cuisine.
So, we took a cooking class with Kadijhas Kusina. But, that’s another story you can read about on our blog – the link is in the show notes.
Instead of eating out, after learning how to make the food ourselves, we mainly went to the incredibly affordable local markets and bought fresh ingredients and spices to cook the food ourselves.
The main walled city area is called the Medina – that’s the same name given to all the walled city centres in Morocco. We’ll go a little bit more into the history later, but with regards to food and markets, every medina has local stalls selling produce, clothes, spices and nik-naks.
It’s always an exciting and buzzing place to explore.
The walls of the city are a few meters high, maybe 20 feet and there are various gates all around the city. The north gate is Bab Dukhala and that leads very quickly down one of the main avenues to a lot of the fresh produce stalls.
The roads are rough and most cars are not allowed to enter. Aside from those main avenues, most of the streets are winding and only a few feet wide. It’s easy to get lost in the maze, and each side street reveals yet more unusual local stores. You won’t be seeing MacDonalds here! Not yet at least.
Let’s take a walk through the medina markets with a live clip:
Of course, the medina is always busy with a mix of tourists and locals, with slightly inflated prices to match.
But there is another option to get all your ingredients away from the crowds…
[Our Local Market]
Oh the bread guy! There is nothing better than walking out of you apartment to get a giant bread roll, big enough for two, for 10 cents, that is still warm and that smell wafting through the air from 6am until 8pm.
Not that we were ever up at 6am!
I loved the “Rent an oven” option. I wonder if we’d made pizza if we could have got it baked!?!
So, it turned out in our 3 years on the road, Essaouira was probably the most affordable place for food market shopping. Pretty incredible. Getting avocados for $2 a kilo. and all the other things we talked about in the clip.
OK So lets talk a little about some history.
Because of the natural harbour, the area has been settled since prehistoric times. It was a recorded trading port back in the 5th century BC and has been occupied continuously since.
The bay and wide long beach are shaped like a crescent and get very high winds much of the year, coming direct from the atlantic. This makes it an ideal place to go kite surfing. Maybe not an activity the ancients partook in, but certainly a fun way to spend your time!
We actually teamed up with Explora Morocco to get our first kite surfing lesson. In the first lesson they just get you used to using the kite on the beach, we didn’t get to hit the water.
It’s pretty hard to get the hang of. You’ll want to book a series of lessons if learning from scratch and looking to get wet.
But anyway, history, it was in the 1760s when the modern walled city and fortress were built. It was all down to politics, of course. King Mohammed the 2nd was pissed of with the traders from Agadir, a port town much further south.
he figured they were going to support one of his rivals, and that could cause problems getting trade to the capital, marakech. So, he chose the nearest good harbour spot to Marrakech to be fortified and turned into a full port he could control.
That happened to be Essaouira. And so the city was developed.
We visited the 18th century fortress, just south of the walled city. Here’s the clip:
The port below the fortress is filled with blue boats and makes for some great photography.
BUT NOW! It is time for the return of story corner! Yay!
Story Corner – (West Country)
Hellooo there, random somerset story corner accent mr frodo. no this accent is not from New Zealand, as lord of the rings fans may believe. It is in fact from the place in England that Tolkien based his hobbit land, the shire, upon. My home county of somerset.
No, I don’t sound like that in real life. That’s another story. Todays story is about our Moroccan massages. They were Two very different experiences.
The bathhouses in Morocco are called hammams. it’s quite a regular ritual of local people to go and bathe in the public bathhouses regularly. Often mostly naked, occasionally completely naked. And, of course, gender segregated.
So, of course, we had to try it out. You could pay a ton of money to go to a fancy hotel and basically have a generic spa experience with the name Hamam. Or you could rough it down the local bathhouse and pay $13 each for the super premium package including Argan oil massage and black soap scrub.
In our ever continuing mission to live local, that’s what we did.
As We both had quite different experiences, Meg will tell her’s first…
My experience was actually quite lovely. The women took me in and even though no one spoke a word of English, they were very all very kind, friendly and patient with me. When I walked in I could see women going about their business, bathing and washing their hair. Kids had been plopped into buckets of water and were having the time of their lives splashing about as their mums gossiped and bathed. This particular hammam wasn’t a completely naked one, so you could still leave your underwear on if you wanted, so it wasn’t full naked experience with a bunch of strangers for me – but not far off.
The lady who was taking care of me took me to a floor mat, of questionable cleanliness – i had no idea how many bare asses had been on that mat in the last 24 hrs. And motioned that I should lay down. Here she began to score me within an inch of my life! I had been warned previously that this scrub could be pretty painful – so I was prepared for it. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting – maybe she went easy on the white girl!
I was then taken to another room where she washed my hair, and my body (leaving me to take care of my own girly bits) and dumped a couple of large buckets of water on my head to get rid of he suds. Before I knew it it was all over and I was sent out to meet up with tom outside feeling quite refreshed and relaxed.
My experience was very different. After realising that everyone was going in in their underpants, I searched the steamy rooms for my masseuse.
A small, skinny yet mainly made of muscle, moroccan man pointed at the floor and indicated I should be down there. No comfortable massage bed for me. Wet, warm and full of bacteria stone tiles were where my face would be firmly planted for the duration of this massage.
As this tiny man leaped wildly from side to side, contorting my very soul with his ludicrously strong hands, I closed my eyes and thought of happy times eating olives at the medina.
I could take the bending of limbs, but the continuous force of my hole body and face being pushed into a hard stone floor was uncomfortable. soapy water that a nearby hairy man had just poured over his sweaty body, flowed towards my face and mouth.
After less than 15 minutes, it was all over. I sulked back to the change room and then went to sit outside. It was not the experience I was looking for, but it was certainly one I won’t forget.
Maybe going to the fancy spa would have been better, if a lot less memorable.
In an attempt to make our travel homework’s even more absurd, this week, we’d like you to massage someone. Really give it to them. Bend them like a pretzel. Make feel alive. or at least, feel like they wished they were dead.
Tell them you’ll give them a relaxing massage, and then massage the crap out of them and tell them it’s authentic Moroccan.
Disclaimer – we take no responsibility for injury or death.
Good luck! tweet us their reactions to the massage of suffering @mytravelfreedom
Next week, back to business, we’ll be talking about our essential wordpress plugins that we use on all our sites. It may not be a sexy topic but it certainly is something that makes a big difference to our blogs.
See you then!
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DISCLAIMER: We are affiliated with, World nomads, – companies we love and support. Some other links may also be affiliate links – these links help support the podcast financially. All our opinions, as always, are our own.
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