"A life in Essaouira" windcity's Profile

Living the dream

Together with my husband we have lived in Essaouira for almost six years, life is very good, and despite being retired I cant help but find things to keep me busy.
We have spent some time working on a renovation project that is now 2 self catering apartments, I also supply handicraft products to retailers and have my own eBay shop.

If you contact me with any Essaouira questions I will try to help you.

Why I made Essaouira my home

Essaouira has succeeded in mixing French influences with Moroccan traditions and culture and the result is an international ambiance.

Dating back 3000 years, this fortified fishing village has played a very important role throughout Moroccan history, at one point controlled by the Portuguese, then the French before control was returned to the Kingdom of Morocco in 1956.

Narrow and curving passageways make up the medina of Essaouira. The passageways are lined by tall white houses with blue doors and artisans workshops are found at every turn.

Ancient ramparts protect the city from the ocean winds and they resemble the ramparts found today in Saint Malo, in Northern France. The ramparts were originally designed by a French architect in order to protect the inhabitants from invaders.

Essaouira is world renowned for its local artisans products such as wood sculpting, paintings, fabrics and music.

The historic canons are still found along the accessible Skalla of the Kasbah and the exterior scenes of Orson Welles film Othello were filmed here.

White sand beaches stretch as far as you can see and water sport lovers from all over the world return to these beaches each year. Surfers appreciate the huge waves, and wind surfers the regular wind. Swimmers should pay attention as the currents can be rather strong.

Consecrated to local fisherman, the port comes to life when the boats return from a long day at sea. The fish auctions are great to watch and if you enjoy seafood you have come to the right place. Most of the local restaurants have daily fresh fish specials. The local specialty is grilled sardines.

Gnaoua Music

The festival is famous for its fascinating mix of music, and it gives musicians from all over the world the opportunity to add their instruments, vocals and vision to a jam session with Gnaoua musicians on stage. Combining Gnaoua with other genres, such as rock, jazz and contemporary, provides audiences with music that they will not likely hear anywhere else.
Gnaoua music is an amalgamation of Arabic, African and Berber rhythms and beats that is used either in prayer or celebration. It is a form of music that is generally practiced mostly in Morocco and Algeria, and is accompanied by dancing. With Gnaoua music being played at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, musicians direct their music to express therapeutic and easy listening songs with a minimal hint of religion. And by inviting other musicians to join them on stage, bringing everything from blues and reggae to hip-hop to the session, audiences feel as if they are watching a group of friends get together to enjoy each other’s talent and skill. Musicians and artists like Paulo Fresu, Randy Weston, Pharaoh Sanders, The Wailers and Keziah Jones, have all graced the stage with the Gnaoua musicians.
All shows at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival are free of charge, and audience numbers have grown over the years to approximately two hundred thousand. Being named as one of the best jam session events in the world, many international visitors have started travelling to Morocco to attend the festival. The first ever Gnaoua and World Music Festival was held in 1998, and since its inception it has gone from strength to strength. Its unusual collaboration of sound and artists appeals to a wide age group and clusters of friends and family members often attend the festival together. Finding a festival that promotes relaxation, while creating an energetic vibe is a truly rare and exceptional event. No audience member has ever walked away from this festival disappointed.

Iles Purpuraires – A Haven for Wildlife

Just off the coast, and visible from the city, lies a small group of islands known as Iles Purpuraires. Not only do these islands add mystery and intrigue to the city, but it they protect Essaouira from the sometimes turbulent ocean.
The Iles Purpuraires got their name from the purple dye that was harvested from the murex mollusk that thrives in the oceans that surround the islands. It was during the Roman and the Phoenician times that the dyes were made on the islands, making them a small industrial zone. Artifacts and items that were used in the making of the dye were discovered on the islands in the 1950’s. The biggest of the Iles Purpuraires, is Ile de Mogador. Here are the deserted remembrances of a fort and its rusted cannons, a prison and a mosque.
Access to the islands is prohibited and the only inhabitants of the islands are the breeding bird populations and an appointed conservationist, who keeps an eye on the Eleanora falcon population. The falcons migrate to Madagascar, but use the islands as their yearly breeding grounds. Many of the nesting birds can be seen from the shores of Essaouira through binoculars, such as waders, egrets, gulls, hawks and other migratory birds. They come to these islands as they are safe from human interference and development, and the government of Morocco wants to keep it that way. Boat trips are available from the port, that will take visitors closely past and around the islands, but being allowed onto the islands requires special permission.
As the islands rest quietly in the restless seas, their beauty and history have become an attraction in their own right. Even though no-one is allowed on the islands, they create an air of mystique and wonder. Sitting on the shores of Essaouira in late afternoon, or looking through a telescope from the jetty in the city’s port, the splendour of this secluded and protected wildlife sanctuary comes to life right in front of the eyes of the beholder.

Sometimes it rains !

From October to March it can rain, often it is a deluge rather than showers. Most people run for cover but I enjoy the emptiness and taking photos. Moroccans welcome the rain.

  • Intro Updated May 19, 2012
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Sue Kagan
Essaouira, Morocco
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