With all of the work piling up in my inbox and back at the office, I felt more than guilty to be staring at a few days of “me” time. I nearly changed my flights and returned early. But I remembered with distinct clarity that in the year I’ve worked with Apple Tree, I’ve taken just 2.5 days of annual leave. That fact alone helped me not feel so guilty. I planned for the free time when I booked my flights, just not all the internet connectivity problems in London, of all places. That glitch really threw me out of whack. It did nothing but put me WAY behind in work. I already have enough to do. I didn’t need the pressure of being so behind nor to feel culpable for taking much needed (and deserved) vacation. I stuck with my original plan and took a few days to myself.
As soon as the car peaked the hill and the ocean was in sight, my cares seemed to be swallowed up by the strong breeze from the sea, and I knew I had come to the right place for rest and rejuvenation.
(Borrowing from Wikipedia for a moment)
The present city of Essaouira was only built during the 18th century. Mohammed III, wishing to reorient his kingdom towards the Atlantic for increased exchanges with European powers, chose Mogador as his key location. He directed a French engineer, Théodore Cornut, who had been captured and enslaved, and several other European architects and technicians, to build the fortress and city along modern lines. Originally called “Souira”, “The small fortress”, the name then became “Es-Saouira”, “The beautifully designed”.
The Medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed city, as an example of a late 18th century fortified town, as transferred to North Africa.
The fishing harbour, suffering from the competition of Agadir and Safi remains rather small, although the catches (sardines, conger eels) are surprisingly abundant due to the coastal upwelling generated by the powerful trade winds and the Canaries Current.
There are only a handful of modern purpose-built hotels within the walls of the old city. The medina is home to many small arts and crafts businesses, notably cabinet making and ‘thuya’ wood-carving (using roots of the Tetraclinis tree), both of which have been practised in Essaouira for centuries.
I found Essaouira to be quaint and charming. It was low season, so there weren’t many tourists, some of the shops were closed, the cooking class wasn’t on due to the major holiday, but I enjoyed fewer people. The weather was splendid, if a bit windy on two of the days there. I particularly enjoyed my long walk on the beach. Nothing like sand between your toes and the sounds of the waves to lift your spirits. Its the San Diegan in me. I will always love the beach. I will always enjoy traveling to new coastlines, dipping my toes in waters all over the world.
Essaouira was just the medicine I needed. I have been so overly freaked out about work, stressed to the max and just not myself lately. That walk on the beach in particular was a chance for me to reconnect with the Shanna I enjoy being. A me that I need to reclaim. Desperately.