Update from Essaouira
Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador
We visited the lush and colorful Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh yesterday (part of Yves Saint Laurent's compound) before taking a van to Essaouira; en route we visited an argan oil coop, observed the female workers breaking the nuts to extract the essence that is manually pressed (entire process is manual, actually) into the oil; we sampled several varieties including "Berber chocolate."
Today we enjoyed a terrific camel ride on the beach followed by traditional Moroccan hammam treatments (massages, mud wraps) which left everyone glowing. Tonight we will gather for a sunset dinner at the fresh fish stands overlooking the ocean, not far from the hotel where Orson Welles stayed while filming "Othello" in 1952. Winston Churchill and Jimi Hendrix are other notables who found the atmosphere of this picturesque fishing town to their liking.
Tomorrow we will leave in the morning for the High Atlas Mountains to begin our exploration of the indigenous Berber culture. We may not have Internet access until we return to Marrakesh on the 17th.