The French, after occupying Morocco as a protectorate, worked very hard to make decent roads inland to connect the more distant cities such as Marrakech and Fes to the coastal cities. They also were at work constructing rail lines. Edith Wharton comments on the new track connecting coastal towns and travels by car with the French officials on a hard-packed dirt road from Rabat to Casablanca to Marrakech in 1917.
But what about the Moroccans in Jade’s time? For them, transportation involved some number of feet, 2 or 4. For long distance travel, the dromedary camel was a proven animal of choice, especially crossing the bled or barren wilderness. [see photo below.]
If one were wealthy, or the Sultan, then horses were utilized. The most common beast of burden ridden or used to carry provisions, was either a mule or the donkey. Donkeys were ridden either astride or by sitting sidewise on them. [see photo below.] The only saddle was a woven cloth. Jade’s mother went up the Atlas on one of these little animals in The Serpent’s Daughter and Jade dodged them in the narrow streets of Marrakech as the drivers shouted balek! as a warning cry to get out of the way.
But in Jade’s time as now, the most predominant mode of transport in Morocco was a person's own two legs. Even in my trip during 2006, people could be seen walking in the Atlas mountains in the middle of nowhere, with no village in sight or alongside of the major roads between distant towns. Others can be seen resting in the shade along the way. [see above photo.] In that way at least, Jade’s time still exists today.
NEXT WEEK: MORE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES