“You may please to understand that I am hear in Salley, in most miserable captivitye, under the hands of most cruel tyrants.”

Morocco: The Traveller's CompanionMorocco: The Traveller’s Companion by Margaret Bidwell

Arranged by subject (Morocco in Literature, The Government, A Selection of Towns, Agriculture and Animals, Working Lives, Education and Rites of Passage, and more), this anthology contains excerpts from the writings of evidently everyone who ever set foot in Morocco from al-Idrisi to Samuel Pepys to Mark Twain:

Tangier has been mentioned in history for three thousand years. And it was a town, although a queer one, when Hercules, clad in his lion-skin landed here four thousand years ago. In the streets he met Anitus, the king of the country, and brained him with his club, which was the fashion among gentlemen in those days.

Henry de Castries writes pitifully to his parents in 1625:

You may please to understand that I am hear in Salley, in most miserable captivitye, under the hands of most cruel tyrants. For, after I was sould, may patroone made mee worke at a mill like a horse, from morninge untill night, with chains uppon my leggs, of 36 pounds waigths a peece, my meat nothinge but a litell course of bread and water, my lodginge in a dungion under ground, wher some 150 or 200 of us lay altogether, havinge no comfort of the light but a litell hole, and beeinge soe full of vermine for want of shift and not beeing alowed tyme for to pick myselfe, that I am allmost eaten up with them, and every day beaten to make me either turne Turke, or come to my ransome.

Dr. Françoise Legey writes in 1935:

A barren woman is under a reproach for the whole of her life. Hence a widow whose marriage was childless finds it very difficult to marry again. It is said of her that she is a mule and that if she remarries she will bring neither milk nor butter with her…The struggle against barrenness is therefore only natural.

This isn’t a page-by-page book that tells a story, but a collection of eyewitness anecdotes written by people who walked Moroccan streets down through the centuries to dip into at your leisure. There is not much of practical use here for the modern traveler, but it is informative and entertaining.

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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. I am having a terrible time reading the 1st book in the trilogy. I am having trouble with the names. Every time a new name (or one mentioned)I stop to try to figure out who it is and how to pronounce it. At least with your other books, the names are easy to figure out. I do realize that the names must go with the time and area.

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