Essaouira – Life In The Port by Barbara Janu

Barbara Janu / United Photo Press
Situated at the Atlantic coast approximately 300 kilometers south of Moroccan Casablanca, the ancient town of Essaouira rightly occupies a prominent place in all travel guides to Morocco. The oriental medina, consisting of a maze of narrow alleys, is lined with city walls that not only offer a gorgeous view of a wide (and considerably windy) beach and the town itself, but that primarily is a great post from which you can peacefully observe the busy life in the local port.

It is right the fishing port that endowes Essaouira with its unmistakable glamour and atmosphere. It is not hard to find it – its reliable guidepost is the swelling sound of seagulls squawk, accompanied by intense smell of fish guts that may not always agree with a too sensitive nose or stomach of a visitor.

From the early morning, when most tourists are still in a deep sleep, tens of fishing boats enter the port to bring fresh fish and seafood of all possible sizes, shapes and colors. The fishermen who process the fish and prepare it for the sale are keenly overseen by the port’s local feathered inhabitants. The seagulls insistently demand their share and as long as the fishermen do not serve them the fish guts and other unsellable fish parts fast enough they do not hesitate to steal a whole fish from under the hands of the less vigilant ones.

Barbara Janu  / United Photo Press

The Essaouirian port cats observe the whole bustle of the place in a seemingly impartial manner, lazing about on heaps of fishing nets for most of the day. Their shiny fur and good shape give the idea of what’s the main component of their diet.

There is enough fish and Moroccans are fond of cats, so there is no need to hurry anywhere. The bright side of the life in the port was discovered by the local dogs as well, lounging on the soft nets just like the cats or waiting at the market stands for their ration of fish.

Barbara Janu  / United Photo Press

Tourists stroll across the port during the day, catching their “takes” like the fishermen, just in the form of good photos and videos. It is not difficult, the picturesque port with the blue-white medina at its background belongs to the most beautiful and photogenic spots in Morocco. 
When the stench of the fresh fish guts is replaced by the lovely smell of grilled fish later during the day, you will know for sure that you are going to revisit this place on your next trip to Morocco.

Text: Veronika Vodicova
Fotos: Barbara Janu / United Photo Press