Sound Routes

Sound Routes: Maghreb / Morocco – Essaouira II (day #6)

Text and field recordings by Dudu Bongo.
Pictures by Ana Larruy & Dudu Bongo.

This post is the continuation of Sound Routes: Maghreb / Morocco – Essaouira I (day #5). 

This was our last day in Essaouira. Ana and I woke up early in the morning, as we were going to meet Hassan Laarousi, a Guembri Luthier, Gnawa Maallem, and friend of mine. He wanted to take us to Souk el Arbaa (Wednesday market) and show us where the locals bought their supplies for the week. Located in Ida Ougourd, around 80km from Essaouira, Souk el Arbaa is always crowded, buyers and sellers from all around the area gather, engage and socialize creating not only an authentic business atmosphere but also a secular cultural demonstration. From meet to old radio cassettes, vegetables and wicker baskets you can find everything you need for the house, the kitchen, the garden or the school.

After a long walk around the Souk under the merciless sun, Hassan bought some goat’s liver and vegetables that we later brought to a grill in where they prepared a delicious lunch for us.

A common tradition in this countryside markets is to come with your donkey, as many of the sellers and buyers live several miles away from it. Consequently, a plot next to the market is designated to become a donkey parking in where the animals will patiently wait for their owners. It was about midday when we finished eating. As the sun heat seemed impossible to bear we decided to make our way back to the city.

Essaouira is a very hectic city, just as in the souk, sellers, buyers, passers-by and, obviously the tourist, walk around its Medina that is always full of people. Despite the presence of foreigners, including ourselves, the febrile Medina preserves its authenticity; its colours, smells and ultimately its sounds.

On that same evening, after returning from the market and taking the indispensable nap, we visited Hassan in his workshop (Yellow Workshop), in where he makes his Guembris and Sanne (his wife) creates her art. Hassan played us Gnawa for several hours until we eventually started feeling hungry and said goodbye.

After the farewell, we headed to Moulay Hassan square, seeking something to eat. There, I saw our friend, the Moroccan Phil Collins, that was seated in the same place than the day before, but this time with a friend of his, a Zamr or hornpipe player and luthier. He joyfully played a mesmerizing melody that could hypnotize the most cunning of the snakes.

The next day we headed south to a small village called Tafedna in where we spent the last two days of our beautiful journey. This little village is well known to all the foreigners because of a little, but lovely eco-lodge ran by young entrepreneurs called l’Ane Verd. In addition to the delicious food served there, the lighthearted environment and the beautiful people we shared time with, a little group of toads occupied a big part of my nights there.

Note for the reader (if you are still there):

I ended this journey through Morocco with the sensation of having absorbed a great amount of knowledge and having shared countless experiences with people that certainly enriched the way I see and enjoy life. After this journey, a great feeling of freedom and confidence motivated me to carry on with this project doing my best to embody this sensation on every sound, every picture, and every word.  Of course, all this would have been impossible without the help of Ana Larruy and his beautiful company and aesthetic perception.

Big thanks to Ernest and Borja, who encouraged me to develop this project, and gave me the tools to do so.

At last, thank you, for having had the patience and enthusiasm of joining us in this journey of colors and sounds. We really hope you have enjoyed it!

Stay tuned for the upcoming projects on HelloSamples and Dudu Bongo’s Facebook and Instagramour journey will continue soon on the other side of the ocean…