Assilah is a relaxed beach town just south of Tangier, on the Western Coast of North Africa.
Even though the code of dress and conduct is visibly Islamic, it is a place where tourists are made to feel welcome.
Jules bought a traditional Pajama, which most men wear outdoors here.
He definitely stood out in Assilah, where most men wear shorts during the day, and jeans or slacks with t-shirts in the evenings.
Most of the merchants here speak four languages, Arabic with a Darija dialect, French, Spanish and English.
When at first we came to Morocco, foolishly feeling that the people may have some anti- American sentiments, and when people asked us in a friendly manner, where do we live, we said New Zealand.
After all, it is the truth for half of the year…..
They nod their heads saying “Welcome, Welcome… To Morocco”
And almost immediately they admit that they have NO IDEA where New Zealand is…
Most people think it is in Europe, since it rhymes with Fin-land, or Fjord-land… Or New England… Or Switzer-land…
But most people who are not extremists, see the energy you project, and not your nationality.
We have encountered nothing but warmth and kindness by the people we communicated with.
We took a long afternoon stroll in the old Medina in Assilah.
It is a beautiful Medina with meticulously restored homes, large walls that overlook the ocean.
We saw boys diving into the ocean from the tall walls, about a hundred feet drop….
Assilah hosts a yearly art festival every June, in which artists from all over the world, come to stay in a local artist residency, while they create artworks to be exhibited in the main hall called Hassan 2 at the entrance to the Medina.
But the biggest canvas in the Assilah art festival, are the buildings of the Medina themselves.
The artists get to paint on the walls of the buildings, and each year they whitewash the walls in preparation for the next art festival.
The streets of Assilah outside the Medina, and away from the boardwalk on the beach, are filled with merchants and people.
You could see local women from the Rif Mountains, who wear a kind of sombrero hats made from straw with a few purple weaving running around it.
They sit in street corners, selling fresh herbs, fruit or delicious goat cheese, which they make and sell in small baskets made from fresh woven palm leaves.
We had a lovely time in beautiful Assilah and now we move on to Tangier.
Before I will say good night, I wish to share some Moroccan Darija old sayings:
– “If you see the lion’s teeth, do not assume the lion is smiling at you…”
– “Until the lion is able to speak, the tale of the hunt, will ALWAYS glorify the hunter….”
– “If you give a donkey the most beautiful and rare fresh flowers, he will still eat them…”