National Geographic : 1925 Mar
ACROSS FRE CH AN D SPA ISH MOROCCO 351 holy men are to be seen throughout lVr orocco. The Moors are very fond of using nicknames, not only among themselves, but especially when speaking of Euro- pean.. \yhose names are unpronounceable and difficult to translate into Arabic char- acter. These nicknames are usually based upon some physical peculiarity; hence, "Lord Deaf Man" and "Lord Lame l\1an." A British resident in Mo- rocco, whose wife addressed him in terms of endearment, was always called "Mr. Dearie" by the native cook. J remember l\1ekinez at sunset-a nar- row white to\nl backed by those flamingo- fringed clouds which are the glory of this country; again. of almost supernatural beauty, under the glowing stars. Ro:vr AN RUINS BEING UNEARTI-IF.D Not far a\vay, among the silent Zerhoun hills. are the ruins of Roman Volubilis, where French archeologi ts are piecing together fragments of stories in stone. \Vhile not as imposing as the Roman ruins of eastern .\lgeria or Tunisia, Vol- ubilis and other sites nearer the Atlantic speak of those days when Mauritania was more than a name on the map. There is a forest of cedars and oaks east of lekinez and a forest of cork oaks between that city and the coast. These and the argan forest back of l\10gador are the only trees on the wide 1\1' oroccan plain tilting upward from the Atlantic to the Atlas l\10untains. The people call this un forested section the Bled (see also text, page 287). In spring great stretches of purple iris and countless marsh-loving birds beautify it, but to the men who cross it with their swaying camels and pattering donkeys, under the burning African summer sun, it must seem a cl rea ry waste. The French are reforesting the hills, taming the rivers, and building irrigation ditches, as in Algeria. Pine logs cut in the A tlas are floated downstream to the sea. The cork oaks of 10rocco. ruthlessly destroyed in the past, are like those in the I berian Peninsula. Last autumn the L' nited States made its first direct pur- chase of Toroccan cork. The argan tree is in a class by itself-gnarled. twisted, limited in habitat. a survivor of an age before the desiccation of the Sahara. It looks a little like the acacia and produces a nut about the size of an olive, from which oil, used by the natives in cooking, is extracted. From l\1ekinez and its neighboring vil- lages we went on to Rabat. This was not my first visit to l\loroccan coast towns, and I found many changes after an ab- sence of 12 years. The twin cities of Rabat and Sale are separated by the wide Bu Regreg River, "Father of Glitter- ing" (see also page 287 and illustration. page 300). The one, with its great citadel mounted proudly on the cliff where the river meets the sea, now merges into the progressive French capital. The other. quiet and ",hite as a snowdrift, beside the restless gray ocean. is little changed since those adventurous days when it harbored the fierce Barbary pirates known to Crit- ons as the "Sally Rovers," who plunderecl the coasts of southern Europe, sailing as far north as the British Isles. 1\lany an unfortunate Christian captive came in chains to Rabat and Sale over the foaming river bar. This inhospitable \Vest Coast is with- out natural harbors, and the French have spent a small fortune on the port of Casa- hlanca, an hour's ride south from Rabat. This city, the second in size in the coun- trv and the home of most of the Euro- p~an residents, is the economic center. just as Rabat is the administrati\'e base. It was here, in 1907, under a dying clyna ty, that the French occupation of Morocco really began. It was not until 1912, after native soldiers had massacred their French officers in Fez, that Marshal (then General) Lyautey was appointed Resident-General. Marching to Fez, which was besieged by 20,000 Berbers, he and General Gouraud drove away the rebels. That Morocco was held and paci- fied during and in spite of the \Vorld \tVar is one of the greatest of military achievements. FROM: SOUTH OF CASABLANCA CO:\H; TTTI~ VA UDEVILLE ACROBATS South of Casablanca, bv sea boulevard. lie 1\1 azagan and Safi, rich in Portuguese associations, with crumbling fortresses built 400 years ago, when Portugal was the greatest maritime nation in the world. with trading posts far down the \Vest A frican coast.