It took about two and a half hours of driving from Marrakech to Essaouira, a small city west of Morocco. Essaouira was a trading port in the Atlantic, fusing African and European heritage.
En route to Essaouira, we passed by a couple of roadside shops selling what is probably most synonymous to Morocco – argan. From oils, to soaps, honey, and butter spread, they have a variety of all-natural, Berber-made products.
The argan tree, native to Morocco, produces fruits that make the oil for both culinary and cosmetic purposes. I was already familiar with the oil, but I didn’t know argan tastes good too!
Our driver, Omar, took us to a shop called Afous Argan, where Berber women make the argan products. The Berbers, an ethnic group of pre-Arab North African inhabitants, usually live in the mountainous parts of the country. Upon arriving in Afous Argan, we were greeted with a brief history of the Berbers, how argan products are made, and of course, cups of Moroccan mint tea. 🙂 They treated us to samples of their products, which was a really good idea, because that’s how I discovered a new-found favorite – amlou, a peanut butter-like spread made of almonds, honey, and argan oil. Soooo good!
More popularly, argan oil is used for the hair and skin. Yes, the products can be quite expensive, but when you get them from shops like this, you know that they only use pure argan, without the nasty additives.
Afous Argan accepts all major credit cards for a purchase of at least 500 dirhams.
An hour more of driving finally brought us to Essaouira. More than the history and scenic view, I was more excited about the fact that this is a Game of Thrones filming location!
Looks familiar? It’s Astapor – where Daenerys bought the Unsullied. Hahaha! Feeling like the Mother of Dragons when I was there. 🙂
Essaouira’s port is also a main tourist attraction where you can enjoy fresh seafood, and shop at the souks. The prices here are way cheaper than in Marrakech, so you might want to think twice about that ceramic plate or leather bag that you’ve been eyeing.
Seafood also comes in fresh, and there are stalls just like in the Philippines which we call dampa. We chose squid, octopus, sea bass, and shrimps, and had them grilled right on the spot. Delish! For a group of five, we paid about 400 dirhams for the grills, including a plate of salad and fries. Not bad.
We finished our day tour at around four o’clock, after which we relaxed by the medina, sipping espresso at a nearby cafe while we wait for Omar to pick us up. Good times.