National Geographic : 1968 Jun
grassy plateaus and come in inky darkness to the village of Ait Ali Ou Ikkou. Here the dis trict sheik invites us into his house. The Ber bers of the High Atlas make us welcome. As I said, snow was one of the things I came to see. But mainly I came to explore a remote Berber region of Morocco, and to visit people who have lived in almost complete isolation from the beginnings of recorded history until well into the present century.* Old Ways Survive in the High Atlas The low country of Morocco I already knew well. But of the Atlas ranges, which bi sect the nation, I had caught only tantalizing glimpses-once on a motor-scooter journey over the whole length of Africa, and again on my way to ride a camel with a Tuareg salt caravan across the bitter southern Sahara.t These fleeting sights of mighty snow-capped peaks and frowning mud-walled forts had 852 stimulated my explorer's appetite. From these fastnesses the mountain tribes had fought their neighbors and later, with equal fury, the French in the 1920's and 30's. I had resolved to visit these isolated people one day. So I returned to Morocco, going inland to Marrakech. There, in a crowd of fortunetellers and snake charmers, I met and engaged Ah med to journey with me into the mountains. I can converse with the Tuareg fairly well, but in Tamazight, the Berber tongue of the Atlas, I am far from fluent. "My Tamazight is perfect," Ahmed assured me as we bargained over salary. "I am an ex pert driver of mules. And I will leave Mar rakech when you wish, for Zuhra, my sweet heart, grows ever more possessive." Alas, only Zuhra's importunities were the whole truth! Ahmed spoke a mere smattering *Jean and Franc Shor described Morocco's rich mosaic of peoples in the February, 1955, GEOGRAPHIC. tSee "I Joined a Sahara Salt Caravan," by Victor Eng lebert, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, November, 1965.