Note: The spontaneous sighting on this day was the highlight of the trip!! #awesome
Day 5, Wednesday:
After the Berber market, we went to La Fromagerie for lunch. They make goat cheese and served a delicious lunch with generous servings of wine. We then had a short time after lunch to nap sketch.
The outdoor oven on the right may have been slow cooking dinner for another group
I went out front, where I spotted Karen shadowing two turtles, who were trying to mate. Not terribly thrilled with that entertainment, I happened to look past her and spotted a herd of camels passing by! There were 25-30 of them, moseying along, of different sizes and colors ranging from soft caramel to deep deep brown. It felt like a scene from a movie. All I could do was shout CAMELS!
We were hot on their trail, cameras in hand, as they were herded into a stone wall enclosure. We then found a knoll and climbed up to take as many photos as possible, until Karen suggested we were most likely annoying unnerving the camels, so we left them in peace and returned to share details of our unexpected sighting with the others.
Curious camel herd
This camel wanted to say hello
Back in Essaouira, we had time before dinner to head to the beach and paint the sunset’s glorious colors. I’m not showing my feeble attempts – it’s not easy at all!!! If you have been trying to paint skies, don’t be dismayed. Although, I should be very clear here – I did not improve! I stopped trying that night, and will just have to try again another day.
For our third day in Essaouira (Tuesday), we had our art lesson on the roof, sunshine and perfect temperatures as usual. I think we are spoiled with this weather! Well, I am, for sure. The thought of returning to wintry weather back home is the furthest thing from my mind right now!
Karen (our art tutor) discussed colors – contrast, cooler vs. warmer, neutrals, how to use color to recede shapes and a great idea for texture – using wax resist.
We walked down to the fort area, with cannons and ramparts and started sketching.
Original fort walls
Our lunch was at a sunny rooftop restaurant. Taking a break from the delicious Moroccan fare, I split a pizza with Karen.
Next, I passed on sketching and went shopping. A few of us stopped into a store and bought lovely linen jalabas, which are hooded caftans. The owner thought we were trying to negotiate, when really, we were only deciding whether to buy them right then, or wait until we returned. So he talked himself down 25% by the time we decided! This was after he said he didn’t negotiate! He made sure to have them shortened and delivered to our riad. I doubt you’ll find that kind of service at home, especially for that price!
Late afternoon – Karen and Nancy decided to go for a camel ride. Abdul (our Moroccan guide) came with us to the beach and took care of getting us there and getting the camels. I decided not to ride, but instead to sketch the one camel (meant for me in case I changed my mind) who posed ever so nicely. The minute my sketch was done, he got up and ambled away. No one was there to make sure he didn’t leave. And no one was there (that I could see) to attend to the horse that galloped by. Whaaat? Just horses and camels strolling about the beach. That is so not normal in the U.S. At home, all creatures are tied up or penned in.
This was just another moment in time that added to the surreal Moroccan experience.
My camel. (that I didn’t ride!) While sketching, Abdul needed to remind me to extend his lower lip. (The camel’s, not Abdul’s!)
But – back to their camel ride – I got some gorgeous shots of them riding off into the sunset.
Karen and Nancy riding their camels into the sunset
Dinner that night was fish. Fresh fish caught that day at a popular seaside eatery. Sea bass, sardines, crab, lobster, sea bream, calamari, red snapper, plate after plate (after plate!) of fish was served. Unfortunately, my very first bite resulted in a tiny bone getting lodged in my gums. And truthfully, while I did try a fish or two, I’m not used to so many kinds of fresh, fresh fish. And not so much a sea food lover. I didn’t go hungry though, there were enough fries and salad!
Essaouira fish dinner
Note: I know it’s been awhile since my last post! I went away (yes, again) and now the holidays are here. I appreciate your patience while I play catchup!
Morocco – a land of surprises.
From Essaouira, after another short art lesson from Karen on the roof, we set off in a van to a small fishing village, Moulay Bouzerktoun. It was hardly a village, I thought we were lost! Very few homes, and only one boat! But very picturesque, and we got some great sketching in of the (one) blue boat and the rugged coast.
The one and only boat we found
This building looked abandoned, but had lots of interesting textures
Moulay Bouzerktoun building
Next was the Val D’Argan winery, owned by a Frenchman for a fantastic lunch with wine, of course. We met the owner, and after lunch, relaxed by the lovely pool. Oh right, we sketched too!
Val d’Argan orange tree
Val d’Argan plant
Val d’Argan pomegranate tree
They still use a camel to plow the grape fields, and we were lucky to find him for fun sketch opportunities! I drew fast and furious, thinking this would be my only camel sketch opportunity. (Little did I know what the future held for me!)
Val d’Argan camel
Val d’Argan camel
Val d’Argan camel
Val d’Argan camel
Val d’Argan camel
On the return trip, we stopped at a place where they process and sell argan oil products. Fascinating to watch women working and fun to shop for souvenirs!!
Our dinner tonight was at “The Patio” a restaurant with delicious food. The candles and sheer curtains all around made for an arabian nights kind of atmosphere!
PS – I forgot to mention my new vocabulary learned from the British artists – ‘blimey’ I already knew, but ‘crikey’ was so much fun to say! I’m sure they were tired of hearing it from me!
It really feels that way, it just didn’t happen in this lifetime.
Over a decade ago, I was collecting and painting things related to Africa-
A journal and a box of saved letters
A few of my earliest watercolor efforts, “The Blue Men of Africa” attempted twice, the second time with ink and watercolor.
Blue men of Africa in watercolor
Blue men of Africa in ink and watercolor
I scanned old National Geographic magazines for images that appealed to me:
A holiday card image one year
I’d love to imagine that these previous longings and efforts will prepare me for my upcoming Moroccan adventure, but I know better. When I arrive, the sounds and people and activities can overwhelm me. My best chance to feel like I’m “home” will be to find the silence: of the desert, or the Atlas mountains, or even just a quiet corner away from the hustle and bustle of the marketplace.
The journal pictured above is empty. I plan to bring it and fill it with words and images that belong in it.
I’ll start with the word “wonderment”, and continue from there.