Sep 17:  Essaouira

Up officially at 8pm, though I was awake from 7am on account of roosters, and I remember hearing the early call to prayer (extended club mix).

At 9:30am (delayed for some reason from 9am) we left for an orientation walk.  At a silver co-op 9:40am-10:15am.  Honestly, can't all this shopping shit be done during people's individual free time?

Outside the silver waste of time I tried to take a close-up of Sophia and zoomed in too close and the image startled me.  She did not like that I found her face startling and made me take a photo of Angry Sophia, which I'm gonna have to get used to in this marriage.

Kittens were scampering about and eating fish bones and being adorkable and tiny.

This tiny kitten is so hungry he's trying to eat a stain.

So tiny he can only be photographed from the ground up!

OH MY GOSH I WANT HIM TO STAY LITTLE.  BTW, Sadie's mom ruins that video.  Stop repeating everything she says in the form of a question in a demeaningly soft voice, trying to apply what you learned in your parenting or conflict-resolution class that you got suckered into because you're a retarded cunt instead of trying to interact with your smarter-than-you daughter as if she's an actual person.  And without hand gestures.

At 10:30am Abdoul ditched us in the medina.  Free time until tomorrow morning!  I went back to the hotel with Sophia (toilet stop), then we wandered the medina and I watched her shop, because on my trips it's become a tradition to spend several hours watching girls shop.  She had to get back to the hotel and meet Abdoul at 11:30am to settle a possibly-unpaid drink at the restaurant last night.  Turns out she did pay for it.

Did some Internet stuff in the hotel, then went for a walk at 12:25pm.

Orson Welles Square.  I didn't know why this existed until I saw that he shot Othello here in 1952.  His appearance at the end of The Muppet Movie intimidated me.  Just realized The Muppet Movie came out closer to Othello than to the current day.  I'm old.  I'm thinking The Miz took his current ring attire from the outfit Orson appears to be wearing in this bust.  No, it's a bas-relief, right?  It's like those 1965 Topps embossed cards, but in stone form.  I remembered the year of that set without looking it up.

Sea gulls on the beach.

Sea birds.  Jackie Rogers Jr.'s $100,000 Jackpot Wad seemingly doesn't exist on the Internet.  If you're like most people and remember 1985 SNL sketches word for word, you understand why I'd want to link to it here.

I got an idea.  Seagulls here, bread in my room, happy memories of feeding seagulls in Ocean City NJ.  I'll come back to the beach later.  Went to the harbor.

Looking down the harbor to the Skala du Port, the sea bastion.  Looks like there's something cool on that island.

Other direction toward the medina.  Sea gulls on the rocks.

Sea gull.  I used to think the red area on the beak was blood from the bird's last victim.

Down the pier past the Marine Gate.  Seagulls are swarming because of all the caught fish.  This place was filthy and smelly.  And not like the Fulton Fish Market or Pike Place, which are good-fishy.  This was bad-fishy.  In case I thought I was in a first-world

Tip of the pier, looking back to the harbor.

Beach, from the pier.

Had lunch at Cafe Restaurant Marrakech in Place Prince Moulay el Hassan, the little square adjacent to the big square where the medina starts.  I ordered a hamburger just to be different.  It came with lettuce, tomato, onion, non-runny egg and unknown spice.  Pretty tasty.  Noticed that many guys here look like Marc Maron.  Local guys.  Or maybe they think Frank Zappa is still all the rage.  Done eating 2:15pm.

Restaurant to the left.  The hotel is a short way down a street in the far left corner.

Stopped back at the hotel to get my pita bread and make hundreds of seagulls happy.  Saw Sophia, though.  We decided to hunt for a liquor store.  Gotta feed myself before the gulls.  Guy at the hotel desk said there were two stores just outside the far end of the medina, so we went that way.  Got ice cream.  It spilled all over my shirt and face and my beard soaked it up.  I'm shaving this thing off.  I trust Dashing Cody Rhodes.  Also got peanut chew.  Thank you.

On my to-do list was a Mexican restaurant called La Cantina, which was on the way to the liquor store, so we looked for it.  Found it.  Moose out front said it was closed until September 30.

Located one of the liquor stores and I got peach vodka this time.  Sophia got gin.  Outside the store we met a guy with a lizard (not a trouser snake) that he put on my shoulder and his claws made me shriek like a little girl.  And the guy didn't ask for money.  Essaouira is the non-Hollywood of Morocco.

We continued northward on Blvd Moulay Youssef assuming there was a different way back into the medina nearby.  There was most certainly not.  Made it to the beach to the north of the city wall.  So much garbage.  Even the rocks and pebbles were garbage, like tiles and bricks from buildings.  This is not a nice beach.  But it's a beach almost no tourist to Morocco has ever seen.  This is cool.

Bad beach.

Waves breaking on bad beach.

I thought from my map that there was eventually a way up into the medina, but we came to a dead end of beach (Rough Guide map is completely wrong here) and had to go back.  Saw some steps that looked promising.  Climbed a wall that would seem to get us into civilization.  Sophia went first and warned me that the top of the wall was sharp.  I didn't realize she meant it had broken glass embedded in it to deter climbers.  At the top we realized we were on a roof, looking down into a cemetery, probably the old Jewish cemetery cited in my book.  Sophia wanted to jump off the roof and said she would have done it if I wasn't there.  Nuts!  Would have been at least a broken ankle.  Climbed back down the wall and the steps.

A bit further up the beach we encountered some beach bums (again, it all comes back to Magnificent Muraco).  Sophia asked them if there was a way through the wall.  They asked (in French) if we spoke Arabic or French.  I said English.  Dude gave me directions in French anyway.  "Trois cent mŔtres" was easy enough to understand.  I had to translate it twice, though, from French and then from SI units (what was called the "metric" system in the '70s).  The refried beans of directions, if you weeeel.

About 300 m up was a random door.  We peered in and there didn't seem to be a floor, but a random guy said that was indeed the portal to freedom (not in so many words).  There was a staircase so we entered.  Carpenters were downstairs sawing wood.  They said it was OK for us to shortcut through.  Exited this mystery building, walked a short distance along a street, and found ourselves back at the gate (Bab Doukkala) where we originally exited the medina for the liquor store.  Hah.

Got back to the hotel at 4:30pm.  Then finally, I headed back out alone to feed the seagulls.

Cats outside the hotel including the one on the right who was shivering as if he'd just emerged from the womb.  He's no more than an embryo.

There were no seagulls left on the beach!?!  I tried to find some near the harbor but there were just a few circling birds on the beach side and they ignored the bread I threw in the air.  The gulls on the smelly side weren't much better.  My bread was competing for their palates with dead fish.  The whole seagull-feeding mission was a profound epic fail.  Reference to the 2010 travelogue there.

On the way back to the hotel I saw Abdoul, Nikky and Rebecca sitting at the big square/little square border.  Rebecca said I look no older than 35 and "that's good for you".  No it is not, and I hate when I hear it.  OkCupid doesn't have a filter for "apparent age".  But I talked about that before and I have more to say later.  Back to the hotel 5:50pm.

At 7pm 9 of us left for dinner.  A rare unofficial non-Abdoul dinner since this was free time.  Norma said Sophia is still sick and won't be coming.  We saw her anyway in town near the ramparts in the pics below.  I kissed a Precious Puppy here.

Awaiting sunset again.

The restaurant from last night might be on the right side of this street.

Other direction.  Harry Styles would be so confused here.  Other places, too.

I straddled a cannon.  Sunset was 7:40pm.  Soon after that I climbed down and said "my ass can't take much more of this cannon".  That came out before I could catch it and Nikky struck with a zing.  My balls fell asleep on the cannon!

Dinner was crevettes aux Úpices et riz (shrimp with spices and rice) and I ordered it in French right after the Quebecers placed their orders.  It was like following the headliner.  I love a challenge.  My meal was actually a tajine, with veggies, so it made up for last night.  Musicians from the street stopped by and played, and then solicited money.  Assholes.  I wanted to knock them out.  Never disturb a man when he's eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, sleeping, thinking or ejaculating.  Any other time is OK.

Aha!  I suspected my cold came from one of the Canadians (since cold viruses thrive in frigid sub-20░C/68░F climates, you global-warming misanthropes), and Jonathan confessed to having had one at the start of the tour.

Whoa.  Dick proposed to Norma at Rick's Cafe in Casablanca just before our group assembled.  We're finding this out now.  They met on  I didn't want to know that.  So we've had one engagement and one wedding on this trip.

I heard Khosara on a radio outside.  It's the Arabic song Jay-Z sampled in Big Pimpin'.  And it was the specific version he sampled.  I need to download it.

Finished dinner around 9:30pm.  To hotel 10:15pm.  Internet stuff and these notes near reception.  My cold really kicked in.  The tissues from the Casa hotel were crucial right about now.  It was a full-blown cold, like full-blown AIDS, but more annoying.  Good thing I brought Vitamin C.  It works.  I took three grams of Vitamin C before a date once and it killed my cold.

Morocco is the strangest place.  It lacks an identity, or has too many identities, on account of all the languages and cultures.  Not African at all.

Around midnight I heard someone snoring in reception.  Pretty sure it was the guy at the desk.  I was 1/2 into my peach vodka at this point.

Left reception 1:10am after rambling to the desk guy, who was now awake.