Friday 28 December 2007

Christmas 2007 in Essaouira

Hello to all the new friends I met in Marakech and Essaouira. Just a few words now to say that we all got safely home today and that we had a really great time.

Here's a photo of me taken at the Jimi Handrix (sic) restaurant in Diabet on Christmas day. I spent a fun few weeks living in Diabet back in 1972 and often go back there to see how the place has changed since then.

In 2006, I think it was, we first saw the early works for the new golf course being built there. The work had progressed in June and the layout of the greens and fairways are now well advanced. Once they sow the grass its going to take a lot of water to keep the grass alive and growing. More on the subject of water in Essaouira later.

A new road is being put in to speed access to the golf course which will undoubtedly be brightly lit at night, bringing light polution to the southern horizon when seen from Essaouira. Today, this view is of a dark hillside running down to the sea. You know where Diabet is but you can't quite see it.

On Christmas Day, my wife, my daughter and I took a taxi to Diabet where we had a simple lunch - omelettes for my wife and myself, fish tagine for Lou. Then we walked back along the beach - a distance of about two miles. A lovely walk, seeing Essaouira getting ever bigger. The wind blowing as usual. I always bring my long, blue Tuareg scarf when I come to Morocco and it comes into its own in Essaouira

That night, we had been fortunate in being invited to a Lila given by Maalem Mahmoud Guinea, in his own house in Essaouira, just outside the medina. I was able to record the entire Lila and will post some of the music and some photos and a podcast given by a local expert in a separate posting.

We sat drinking coffee, most days, at Chez Ben Mustaffa, near Place Moulay Hassan, cafe casse (must learn how to type acute accents) for me, nous-nous for Maggie and Lou. Cafe Casse means broken coffee, or latte machiato (Italian and Starbuckspeak) - more coffee than milk. Nous is half in arabic, so nous-nous is half coffee and half milk. Add kebir if you want a large drink - nous-nous kebir, men fadlek.

I was sitting there one evening and thought I recognised the music that was playing. Then I realized that it was the Hassan Boussou concert that I had recorded in June. They were playing one of the CDs I'd given to Hicham the day before. It was wonderful hearing this long, soulful, 20 minute piece just 50 yards away from where the music had been performed six months earlier. Then, the music fom the CD vendors near to the cafe had totally drwoned out the music from the stage just beyond. This was the first time that people in this area had heard that music. I felt quite proud to have brought something back to Essaouira.

I took about 30 CDs with me and I gave them all away but could have given away many more. I'd build a 3 CD set of Chiek Tidiane Seck and Maalem Mahmoud Guinea, first playing individually and then together. This set really shows the value of fusion between musical styles. I also took some three volume sets of Best of Essaouira 2007 plus a bunch of Best of DaftNotStupid Volume 1. All have nice printed labels in the blog colours.


  1. Hello,
    nice to read something about Diabat. I spent a few month in Diabat from August 71 to December 71. A beaded lizard bite ends this wonderful time. At that time there lived a lot of french, german and british young people in diabat. In Essaouira we always spent a lot of time in the "cafe hippi".
    I have one question to you: As you spent time in Diabat in 1972 you may can estimate the change of Diabat. Would be nice if you will answer. My eMail is

  2. Hi Harald, yes, Diabet has changed enormously. The last time I was there - maybe 2010, they were still building the new golf courses along with swish hotels. Cafe Hendrix was still there, though.

  3. Thank you for your answer.
    I want to stay a few days in Diabet in October, maybe.
    Do you have some (digitized) fotos from your stay in 1972?
    Excuse my curiosity.
    Have a nice time
    best regards

  4. Hi Harald, somewhere in my loft I have a box of old photos, including some I remember taking on taht trip. Not sure if there are any of Essaouira and it will take a major expedition to find them, but if I do I'll post them here. John

  5. Hi Harald, I found my old photographs, including two from Diabet, taken, I think, where the new golf course is now! I've created a new post for them, here: