Sidi Kaouki

For breakfast we found a table on the edge of one of the Medina’s squares, which was already getting the morning sun, had coffee, orange juice and bread with jam which was an excellent way to start the day. We explored more of Essaouira’s Souk, which we hadn’t finished the previous day, including the fish market (always a highlight) and some more hidden alleys. We eventually wound our way to the bus station where we hopped onto a local bus heading along the coast to a sleepy, surfing village called Sidi Kaouki, which was a smaller, more laid-back version of Essaouira. After three quarters of an hour we arrived and almost immediately settled down for some food, surprisingly, we had fish for lunch and then walked along the beach, which seemed to be never ending, to burn off some of the calories and enjoy the tranquillity and the sunshine.

The bus was due to return at 1700 but there was a large group of friends who needed two more people to share the cost of two taxis so we joined them as the price was £1.20 each instead of £0.60 each on the bus, it proved to be a far quicker option but we did pass the bus only a couple of minutes after departing. Wanting to find somewhere to buy a bottle of wine (it was New Year’s Eve after all) we followed some signs for a hypermarche (supermarket), after five minutes we were already questioning if this was the correct direction but just as we were losing hope we saw another sign, this continued for the next 20 minutes and took us through some small industrial areas and then into a distinctly poorer area on the outskirts of town by which point we had almost completely given up when we rounded a corner and the elusive shop came into sight. I was extremely doubtful at the prospects of the supermarket selling any alcohol as everyone else entering was distinctly Muslim. It was one occasion that I was desperately hoping to be proved wrong, I was hoping to find a small section, perhaps hidden in a corner, that would make the whole effort worthwhile, unfortunately I was proved right, our half an hour walk had been fruitless and as Harri said “I don’t think we have ever worked so hard for some wine”. Instead of walking back we paid a local to take us back to the Medina in his horse drawn cart (marginally faster than walking).

When we got back to our hotel there were some other guests who had a bottle of wine which led to us finding out about another supermarket, in the other direction, which sold wine. We hightailed it there and immediately realised we were in the correct place, there was a whole room crammed full of wine and spirits and there were dozens of people hurriedly selecting drinks. When we went to pay, we looked for a queue however we were met with a mass of clamouring people all trying to get to one of the three disastrously inefficient tills. Once we finally fought our way to the front and paid, we were relieved to be out in the fresh air, away from smelly armpits and aggressive men. A short taxi ride back and we were able to enjoy a glass of wine and a beer watching the tail end of the sunset from the rooftop.

For dinner we went to a vibey restaurant called The Loft which had jazzy music and walls adorned with retro radios and TVs. We shared calamari and a prawn dish before going to find a bar to spend the rest of the evening. The place we had anticipated spending the evening at wanted to charge £14 for a glass of wine so we walked away, not quite believing they had doubled their prices from those displayed on their menu, we instead found a small restaurant which had a local musician playing where we just chatted in the corner although we left about half eleven and returned to our faithful rooftop and the remainder of the wine we had bought and spent the rest of 2018 and the first couple of hours of 2019 chatting about everything imaginable.

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