For homework today, I asked George and Molly to write a persuasive essay in favour of one of these two cities. They both immediately knew they’d try to convince their reader to come to Essaouira.
Though I agree with their arguments that Essaouira’s ocean breeze has lulled this city into a calm and relaxing state, I am still very happy to have visited Marrakech’s chaos. Perhaps it’s because Essaouira wouldn’t feel as serene if I hadn’t just come from such a hectic urban pace, but the reality is, I liked Marrakech because it challenged me in ways I haven’t experienced yet on this trip.
Marrakech is exhausting. The sensory overload is real, and I doubt I’d like to stay there for more than a few weeks because I’d probably start going crazy or hibernate in my riad to avoid the impact of every day life there. However, visiting a place that is so different has value in itself. I don’t think it’s ideal to only visit places we feel comfortable. It’s similar to the notion that you’d only ever eat in one restaurant in your whole life. Marrakech challenges you: do you really need all traffic to stop when you cross the street or is inching your way along through the flow ok? Are our western cultural ways of young women dressing scantily really better than modest attire? Do farmers need million dollar tractors to plough land and sow seeds when two mules and a son will do? Do we all need satellite tv? Do we all need huge walk-in closets so we can indulge in variety? Are our fears of Islamist extremists from the middle east causing us to fear moderate Muslims in other parts of the world? I recognized there’s no clear answers to these questions, but it’s nice every now and then to at least consider them. Marrakech causes you do to that.
Essaouira, on the other hand, is a small city built on the fishing and trading industry. It’s exposed to the rough waves and winds of the Atlantic, but old town walls and calm ways of the people buffer the harsh coast.The pace is slow here and even the vendors in the market take a more relaxed approach to selling. In Marrakech my guard was up all the time, and here I have been able to breathe and relax. Three days here is not enough.
So if you read the kids’ short essays on the virtues of Essaouira, I ask you to consider that a trip to Marrakech is worthwhile too.