TIPS FOR TRAVELLING
For Morocco you will require a passport with at least 6 months validity. With the entry you receive automatically a visa of 3 months' validity, which will be renewed for another 3 months after a short departure out of the country. A vehicle may stay 6 months maximum per year on Moroccan territory.
The Dirham is Morocco's currency. One Dirham is worth approximately 11 cents. You may exchange currency at the airport or on the ferry on your inbound travel. In the country there are in all towns banks which have cash dispensers. Visa and Mastercard are always accepted and the EC card mostly. Traveller cheques (best in Euro and from American Express) may be exchanged into cash, but not at any bank in Essaouira.
In Morocco is the whole year GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
The official language of Morocco is Arabic, and all children learn French at school as their second language. In rural areas, as around Essaouira, many people speak Berber. In Casa Guapa we speak English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic.
MANNERS & CUSTOMS
You are travelling in a moslem country. Approximately 90% of the population is muslim. Essaouira is very open and respectful towards tourists. Surely you will find everything here from the totally covered traditional woman to the very trendy and modern morrocan woman. Anyhow it`s advisable to refrain from permissive clothing. This is particularly relevant for local excursions. Sun tanning in bikini at the beaches of Essaouira is no problem. Should your stay occur during Ramadan (fasting period), you should know that all Moroccans don`t eat, drink or smoke during the day till sunset. But no worries anywhere in Essaouiras you will find plenty of cafés and restaurants serving food, coffée and the delicious mint tea also at daytime. If you wish to take photographs of people, always ask their permission first, and should they request it give them some money.
In Essaouira you can relax all year round, as it is never too cold or too hot. Its temperate climate hardly varies from one month to the next. During the year the temperatures average 20 to 25°C, and at night they drop to below 12°C only on some days in January and February. The Passat wind accompanies the seasons with the strongest gusts in June, July and August - much to the joy of the international wind and kite-surfing community! - and gradually abates until the end of the year; as from January it takes off again. From September to May one can enjoy warm, low-wind and sunny days and good waves for surfing and bodyboarding. This is an ideal time for excursions into the hinterland, where it is very hot from mid-May until late August. During the summer holidays in Morocco from the end of June till the middle of September, those from the hinterland flee to Essaouira, where they can make new acquaintances through surfing, swimming and playing.
As rainfall is very rare around the area of Essaouira, people are very pleased about any raindrop falling – and as rainclouds always come from southwest it is never cold when it`s raining.
Comfortable, light clothing which protects the whole body from sunlight should be part of your basic kit. The climate of Essaouira is not not be sneezed at and you should not miss to bring a wind-breaker jacket, a thick trouser (e.g. jeans) and solid shoes with you, no matter which season you are planning your jouney. Please take this advice seriously and do bring something really warm. Of course you can also buy right here one of the typical cuddly sheep wool jerseys.
The banks have there opening hours normally from 08.30am – 11.30am and 02.30pm – 04.30pm. In the period of Ramadan the opening hours change. Shops have individual opening hours, but never is everything simultaneously closed except on some major public holdays. Evenings become quieter as from 09:30pm, restaurants close around 11:00pm, in summer time somewhat later.
INTERNET AND TELEPHONE
There are Internetcafés and „téléboutiques“ (shops with coin-operated telephones) everywhere, also next to Casa Guapa. Public phones on the streets work out with prepaid cards, available in any shop. The international dialling code of Morocco is +212.
The Atlantic coast of Essaouira is – still!- one of the most abundant fishing grounds in the world. The variety of food is enormous – from the traditional moroccan food, freshly caught fish, the „nouvelle cuisine“, pizza and pasta, snacks on the
streets, crèpes, italian icecream etc. you will be served in essaouira with delicious food in every level of prices. Fresh vegetables, meat and other ingredients you need to cook for yourself in Casa Guapa are available just next to the house or on the market in the old medina. You can buy freshly caught fish directly in the harbour or in the medina on the fish market.
Tap water in Essaouira is heavenly chlorinated and thus tastes poorly. It is nonetheless potable but not to be recommended for a Europeans' stomach. In cafés and restaurants one may eat and drink without worry, also the typical freshly squeezed orange juice. The establishments in town are usually clean as well as the public lavatories, but take along your own toilet paper as that is usually not dispensed.
There are no special vaccinations required for Morocco. Also there is no danger of malaria. The little hospital of Essaouira and other surgeries are surely adequate for a first medical care. Dental care is limited to extraction of teeth or neutralising nerves; good treatment for preservation of teeth is not available in Essaouira. Numerous specialists and better equipped hospitals can be found in Marrakesh or Agadir. A travel insurance is always advisable.