Sep 16:  Armed (High Atlas Mountains) to Essaouira

At 6:05am I felt the whole building shake.  Earthquake?  I checked USGS later and there was nothing, so maybe it was the violent wind.

Percy and Noel woke at 7:05am.  I stayed in bed till my alarm went off at 7:30am.  I slept well.

Sophia said the patio was nice but windy, and she didn't sleep well.

Noticed I had a sore throat.  Not sure if it was from alcohol or dehydration or inhaling dry air or the minor cold I'd picked up.

At 8:15am we started walking back down the hill.  Left on the minivan 8:55am

This was cool...traffic came to a halt for 15 minutes because of Mission: Impossible 5, which was also being shot here.  After the road opened we passed all the action and saw what had to have been Tom Cruise's stunt double.  He looked like a younger straighter saner Tom Cruise.

Stopped at a supermarket (the Massira Marjane, which has a broken image on its web site...might want to fix that and update the copyright date) to get food for another picnic lunch.  I got turkey and Coke, and still had pita bread from before.  Apparently there was no alcohol at this store.  Ack!

Had our picnic 11:55pm-12:30pm.  Noticed a big salt stain on my shirt from sweat.  It was the same shirt I'd worn for the flights out here, and I figured it was good for another couple hours of wear on the minivan.  Nope!

Found out our driver is leaving us in Essaouira and we'll have a different one for the last couple days.

Noticed my water bottle was collapsed from the change in air pressure.  Cool!  Same thing happened when I flew from Cusco to the Amazon 2 years ago.

Stopped 1:50pm for a visit to the Afous Argan cosmetics place.  Too many stops on this trip.  I don't like being unexpectedly roused from a semi-snooze to have various oils and creams rubbed on my hand and arm that I have to wash off before I can touch my eye or my phone or anything else.  That was 40 minutes I could have been napping or drinking or writing.  And people took tons of photos.  Again, not everything is interesting enough to be photographed.

Essaouria and the Atlantic from a lookout point as we approached.  The third and final optional excursion (camel ride on the beach) would be available here, but Abdoul dissuaded everyone.  "Less work for me."  I doubt anyone would have gone for it anyway.  Kind of an odd placing of it in the itinerary after the Sahara ride.

Arrived 2:55pm in Essaouira.  Again, with the pronunciation.  Even if you didn't give a shit about the country you're visiting and never did any research and never saw the pronunciation in a guide book or a web page, and ignored Abdoul every time he said it, wouldn't you just pronounce it the way it's spelled according to the rules of the language?  (I realize the answer is no, which explains why some adults still have accents that others of us lost when we were 3.)  Even if you're not fluent in French, it's tough to make it through life without ever encountering "oui" and knowing it's pronounced "we".  So where were people getting essaWAHRa instead of essaWEERa?  Ouirdos.

Essaouira smells like the Jersey shore!  We walked 10 minutes from the minivan to the Hotel Cap Sim, which is a little bit inside the medina.  My Rough Guide map actually says it's in the kasbah.  This town is full of white tourists, unlike the places we've been ecently.  Feels like I'm on vacation now.

I'd planned to relax in my room until dinner, but Sophia saw me and wanted to get ice cream, so at 4:15pm we went for a walk.  Got ice cream in that general area with the parking lots and food stalls outside the medina.  Then we walked along the beach.

My feet in the Atlantic.  I think Costa Rica was the last time.  Despite my annual visit to Philly, I haven't been in the REAL Atlantic in 15 years.

The beach.

On the way back we looked for drinks because we're alcoholics.  One bar served only beer, which she doesn't drink.  Another was good with a nice view.  Had 2 vodka oranges, each.  Good conversation about relationships and whatnot.  Continuing back toward the hotel I was treated to a prickly pear.  I actually didn't like it.  Not sweet enough.

Hotel 6:10pm.  Just enough time before dinner for a dump and shower.  I needed to shave but cut it for time, and because I was told I look good as-is.  Or as-was.  I'm inconsistent with tenses in these travelogues.  My lawd, this is quite the tenses...oh shoot, I used that cutaway gag already.

At 7pm we (most of us) left for dinner at Il Mare.  We had drinks first on the terrace.

Sunset over the Atlantic.

Got to talk to Sana and Ayaka.  Without hand gestures.  Was told a California Roll is not real sushi.  I kind of suspected that.

We moved downstairs for dinner.  I ordered grilled shrimp (155 dh) that came as advertised.  Just 25 shrimp with no accompaniment like veggies.  Yummy.  Had 3 beers.  I hated the place, though.  A singer started performing and was so loud that we couldn't talk.  Why do bars and restaurants think their paying customers don't want to enjoy their food/drink and have conversations?

It's Norma's birthday!  Song and cake.  Most times in this setting the birthday cake is terrible, but this one was good.

Back to the hotel.  Went up to the roof at 10:26pm with Nikky and the Quebecers.  Played the celebrity game some more and drank Nikky's vodka.  I forget when Emilie and Jonathan left, but I stayed a bit longer talking to Nikky till 11:50pm.

Out the window of my room or the stairwell.  Time stamp is 11:54pm, which is close enough for this.  Bed 12:50am.