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, August 25, 2008

MOROCCO: INTO THE ATLAS –PART 4: HOUSE CONSTRUCTION

The Berber village in the Atlas Mountains that Jade and her mother, Inez, visited in the 1920 adventure, The Serpent’s Daughter, would not have been much different from the ones seen today. True, several modern villages have electricity coming into the village (but not necessarily each home) and some even have a satellite dish on the roof, but those are peripheral changes. The basic construction method is very similar to the old days.

The first step is making enough pise bricks (photo 1).

After the bricks are built up, the outside is coated with the clay to make a smooth surface. The roof begins with cross timbers (photo 2) which are overlayed with diagonally placed bamboo rods then covered in straw and clay (also seen in photo 2). That is eventually covered with another layer of clay.

The inside ceiling of bamboo is decorated by painting it in colorful patterns in red, yellow and black. In the old days, the diamond or lozenge pattern has been said to represent an eye, such as the partridge’s eye which keeps away the “evil eye.” (photo 3).

Finally, the exterior is often decorated in patterns. In photo 4, there are two patterns that resemble the fibula pins that women used to hold their outer cloaks on over their dresses.

NEXT WEEK: GARDENS AND WATER IN THE MOUNTAINS.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter (available in paperback October, 2008). The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, will be available in hardcover January 2009. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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Monday, August 18, 2008

MOROCCO: INTO THE ATLAS –PART 3

The Berber tribes moved into the refuge of Morocco’s mountains, fleeing from Roman and Arab invaders and even each other. Isolated from each other by the harsh mountains, fierce winters, and dry summers, they formed their own villages; built into the mountains sides close to one of the life giving streams farther down the slope. (photo 1)

Homes and villages were constructed of pise, equivalent to adobe. (photo 2)


The dwellings were made snug against each other and with their backs often against the protective shelter of the mountainside. The house interior belonged to the women during the day and men spent the days working the fields, tending the sheep, and then later, visiting in a village plaza while the women cooked, sewed, or made their beautiful rugs and cloaks on tall looms in one corner of the house. Another woman’s area was the well and a man had little business there intruding on the woman’s almost sacred domain.



When Jade visited her village in 1920 (The Serpent’s Daughter), she met many of these women and saw the interiors of their homes. Once again, the interior beauty was more important than the exterior of the house which frequently blended into the mountain so as to be nearly invisible. (there are two villages hidden in photo 3 with one shown more close up in 4)






NEXT WEEK: HOUSE CONSTRUCTION IN THE MOUNTAINS.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter (available in paperback October, 2008). The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, will be available in hardcover January 2009. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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Monday, August 11, 2008

MOROCCO: INTO THE ATLAS –PART 2

In the winter, the Great Atlas Mountains are impassible due to snow. This snow melts in the spring and turns dry stream beds into raging torrents, making travel equally dangerous. But this same snow melt means life to the mountain Berbers and to those living in Marrakech. C.E. Andrews, who traveled into the Atlas during the summer, (Old Morocco and the Forbidden Atlas, 1922), described underground conduits that carried water from the foothills to the city and deep wells tap into the conduits south of the city.

Journeying into the mountains in the early 1920’s was hazardous at any time of the year for solitary travelers. The roads were little more than narrow winding trails (see arrows in photos 1 and 2) that often hugged the edges of steep precipices.










Some of these trails have been widened and paved in modern times (photo 3).


Paths were also guarded by tribal rulers (Kaids) who might demand a steep payment, including one's life, for passing through their lands.

NEXT WEEK: INTO THE ATLAS – villages in the mountains.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter (to be released in paperback October 2008). The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, will be available in hardcover January 2009. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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Monday, August 04, 2008

MOROCCO: INTO THE ATLAS –PART 1

The Great Atlas Mountains loom on the southern horizon from Marrakech. They are a blessing for the city, for it is their snow melt that supplies the ‘red city’ with water for its beautiful gardens, its fountains, the palmeries, and for life. But the gift is rather like a bribe. Take the water, but stay away. And so the Great Atlas, with its sheer cliffs, challenging paths, and frigid winters became a refuge for the Berber tribes fleeing from invaders.

In 1922, C.E. Andrews published an account of his journey into these mountains. Old Morocco and the Forbidden Atlas is a wonderful account of his trip and the people he met. At that time, the French Protectorate didn’t extent into the Atlas mountains. It ended at the northern foothills, not far from Marrakech. So when Jade and her mother traveled up into the mountains in her 1920 adventure, The Serpent’s Daughter, it was without protection from anyone but her Berber guides, much as it was for Mr. Andrews.

According to various geological articles, the Atlas grew in pre-history (65 million to ~1.8 million years ago) during a time when Africa and Europe converged. Such collisions push and fold rock, forcing them up into huge chains. With the Atlas, ocean sediments from the age of the dinosaurs (Mesozoic era) and older were folded and faulted into jagged peaks with sloping layers like a slanted cake.

In some spots, many oceanic fossils are visible.


NEXT WEEK: INTO THE ATLAS Continued

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, will be available in hardcover January 2009. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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