Yesterday Nina and I flew to Essaouira. It was great flight to pilot because we flew alongside the snowed Atlas mountains. At Essaouira, a beautiful Moroccan town in the Atlantic coast I was surprised to find out that at some point the city was 40% Jewish. Doing some research, I found these two Wikipedia articles that I link to. One is about Essaouira itself and the other is about the history of Moroccan Jews.
Modern Essaouira has a fusion French Moroccan flavor that works beautifully. There are some negatives, especially how dirty the beach is. It is surprising that with the high level of unemployment in Morocco they don´t clean the beach of plastic debris. The issue of uncollected garbage seems to have something to do with a lack of education of the people of Essaouira who throw garbage around as they walk. Interestingly, compared to my native Argentina (a country that ranks high on cleanliness), where crime is very common, Morocco seem to be mostly crime free at least as far as tourists are concerned. Coming from Latin America, I find that Morocco, and India for that matter, are a proof that poverty, inequality and unemployment do not necessarily lead to crime. In general I think that tolerance to crime or pollution are cultural issues and not clearly related to economic conditions. Morocco seems to be a country where people and places are extremely clean from the door in but that the moment you step outside, the area is seen as nobody´s property and then it is also seen as there for all to abuse. The strongest example I have seen of this is the entrance to one of the best hotels in Marrakesh, The Villa des Orangiers. The hotel exterior looks like a shanty town. The interior is one of the nicest I have ever seen.
But environmental issues aside, Essaouira is a magical place that I want to return to. The people are very nice (except when you try to take a picture of them which I still need to understand why), the food is great and the light and the landscape is unbelievable. We had a day of passing clouds and the different tones of off whites and blues made the whole experience memorable. The combination of Marrakesh, Essaouira by the sea and the Atlas Mountains makes this part of the world a must in the itinerary of the global traveler.
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