National Geographic : 1955 Feb
From Sea to Sahara in French Morocco not budge. Shrugging, the driver walked half a mile to a settlement of Zaian tribesmen, fiercest in Morocco. He returned with 18 men. They pulled and shoved halfheartedly for half an hour. Then, apparently tiring of the useless game, they surrounded our sedan, lifted it clear of the ooze, and set it on solid ground. With the French Foreign Legion The landscape looked more like Switzerland than the usual conception of Morocco. Cows grazed in the meadows, trees covered the hill sides. Birds were everywhere-doves, red and black partridges, small woodpeckers, little owls, and swallows. In a 50-yard walk from the car Jean picked 26 varieties of wild flowers. Then suddenly we were twisting down a steep and frightening red-clay road, the mountains fell away, and we entered the hot and dusty streets of Khenifra. It had been a rough trip, and we were hun gry. The Cafe de France, situated only 20 yards from the gate of the Foreign Legion post at the end of the main street, looked like our best chance. We entered to find that it was payday for the legion, and the room was jammed with lean soldiers in white kepis. Somewhere I once read that one must never ask a legionnaire his name or where he comes from. They are men with something to forget, said my long-forgotten author, and their past is their own secret. I was somewhat surprised when a sturdy young German came to our table, introduced himself as Kurt Something from Wiesbaden, and announced he had learned English during two years as a prisoner of war in New Jersey. Next came a red-haired Frenchman from Lyon, who was more than generous with vol unteered information about himself. A for mer Saarlander also wanted to talk about his past. Jean and I gulped our sandwiches, paid for the legionnaires' beers, and fled from the deluge of confidences. So much for tradition. Fes: Three Cities in One The road north was smooth, and the moun tains faded into the background. Now there were grainfields and vineyards and well-tended country estates. Then, at Meknes, we turned east and rolled over increasingly barren country. Traffic, both animal and mechanical, grew heavier. And just before dusk we stepped from our car at the Merinide tombs and looked down upon the ancient beauty of Fes. Founded more than 1,100 years ago by Moulay Idriss, Fes has always held a spe cial place in Moorish hearts.* Here is the 1,000-year-old Karaouine University, where the professors teach a curriculum based en tirely upon the Koran, and where scholars from all the world of Islam once came for en lightenment. Here were the greatest artisans of the Maghreb. The tomb of Moulay Idriss II, one of Morocco's holiest shrines, still draws pilgrims. Modern Fes, with 185,000 Moroccans and 15,000 Europeans, is really three cities. There is Fes el Bali (Fes the Old), on a site prob ably inhabited before the 9th century, and Fes Djedid (Fes the New), so called because it is less than 700 years old. Europeans make their homes in the Ville Nouvelle (New City). It was Marshal Ly autey, first French Resident General of Mo * See "Fez, Heart of Morocco," by Gordon Casserly, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June, 1935. Angels Will Yank This Boy to Heaven by His Queue, Tradition Says Berber children among the more primitive tribes all wear pigtails. This young fellow plays in the sand at Zagora, on the edge of the Sahara.