Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, February 18, 2008

MOROCCO’S PIRATE HISTORY- RABAT


Jade did well to skirt Rabat since the French made it their capital after WWI when they formed the Protectorate in Morocco. But even before the French occupied it, this coastal city had a colorful history of battles and piracy.

In Rabat’s case, the old Roman settlement became part of an independent Berber kingdom. Just across the river, the city of Sale grew as another Berber stronghold. The kasbah shown in the photo below, was constructed in the 12th century in Rabat as protection in the battles between these two rival city kingdoms. As can be seen in the closeup, these walls were not built of stone, but of clay brick and a crumbly mortar.

Both Rabat and Sale are probably more well-known for the pirates that harbored there beginning in the 17th century. Jade’s history lessons would have included a section on America’s dealings with the Barbary pirates from Morocco and the other Barbary (Berber) countries. These corsairs demanded tribute from nations and held sailors and ships captive until the money was paid. In fact, much of what Jade saw in Morocco was built using slaves taken as prisoner by these pirates. Thomas Jefferson saw that there could be no end to these demands for tribute. Up to that time, the United States didn’t have much of a navy, but that changed soon enough. As a girl, Jade would have learned of the courageous and daring battles that the marines fought on “the shores of Tripoli” against these pirates.


Next time: More Morocco trivia

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Monday, February 11, 2008

MOROCCO’S COASTAL CITIES

The walls of the old coastal cities are often built of stone and in different styles than inland cities, generally depending on the people constructing the fortress. And coastal cities often saw a variety of occupations.

For example, Jade spent time investigating Azilah and noted the massive stone walls around the old city. Azilah was originally built by the Carthaginians and may have been occupied by Phoenicians before the Romans took over. But whatever they built was eventually covered over by the Portuguese who took the city in 1471. It was the Portuguese who constructed the stone walls that Jade saw.

The photo below, while not from Azilah, is somewhat representative of the Portuguese cities along Morocco’s Atlantic coast. It is taken at modern Essaouira (esa-wera) farther southeast. The Portuguese had called this city Mogador. The walls and watch tower in the photo illustrate this Portuguese style of fortress.

But Mogador was not finished changing hands. Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdullah rebuilt much of the city’s interior in 1765 (using a French architect) and named it Essaouira. When the French established their protectorate in 1912, they renamed it Mogador. Hence, that’s the name Jade would have used in referring to it. In 1956, with the coming of Morocco’s independence, the city reverted to Essaouira.

Next time: More Morocco trivia

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Monday, February 04, 2008

CITY GATES AND CARAVANSARIES

Most Moroccan cities have a medina, or “old city,” generally marked by towering walls punctuated by massive gates. These great city gates all almost are made in graceful arches. Our Moroccan guide, Ali, explained that they are designed to resemble a horseshoe because horses are sacred animals. Horses may be sacred but the donkey is more common. Loaded with baskets like panniers, they just clear many of the narrow alleys. When the animal’s driver shouts, “balek,” as a warning to get out of the way, pedestrians often need to plaster themselves against a wall or step into a recessed doorway.

In Jade’s time, there were locations within the city walls for housing both travelers and their animals. These caravansaries or fondouks (sometimes spelled funduq) were large structures surrounding courtyards. The animals were housed on the lower level, and the traveler, usually a merchant, slept above in common rooms. In this way, a lone traveler was assured some protection against raiders. Since most of the visitors to one of these inns were merchants, the courtyard became a place for selling wares.


Anyone arriving after the city gates closed at sundown, would join up with other travelers in a palm garden close to the city and seek protection in numbers there.


Next time: More Morocco Trivia and Tidbits

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