December 5, 1912

Crowd in the Market , Rabat 1912

Crowd in the Market , Rabat 1912

Rabat, Morocco
Dear Alta:

Your letter of Nov 11th received today.  You see it takes a long while.

I have come up on to the flat roof or terrace where I can see better as it is 5:30 and getting dark.  I have a room in the British consulate, which looks out on the river Oued.  The town of Salé is just across the river.  They row you across in a big boat for a penny.    There was a nice sunset tonight and all these buildings white washed and clean look very nice against the pink sky…. 

It was awfully good of Mrs. Cross to give me a room here.  I guess I told you her husband, the consul, just died.  I saw him in Tangier and he died on the way back, at Casa Blanca.  It was such a pity both for him and for me.  He was an awfully nice man and it would have been a great pleasure to me to know him well, besides he would have helped me a lot, I know.  However, the wife and sons have been very good.

You see here I have to speak Arabic with the Arab that takes me out. It’s an awful nuisance and of course at times when there’s anything complicated the family has to interpret for me.

You’d faint if you’d see the man that goes over to Salé with me mornings.  He smokes kif and has great starry eyes and one of them white and blind like a horse.  He’s enough to scare anybody.  He hasn’t the gumption of a goose about some things and yet others he’s very good on others.  He used to be a police man so he does have some idea of looking after me and the other policemen all like him so they’ll be standing up for me too.

Salé is a sacred city that Christians never set foot in until recently, so I have to go easy.  My man is a Salé man which makes it better as Rabat and Salé hate each other.

My room is lighted by a sky light and from 5:30 to 6:30 is the most bitter hour of the day.  Oh some nights I nearly die.  It’s too late to walk the streets and there are no balconies or anything else on the street, no windows.  Pitch dark on the roof and too dreary dull in my room by candle light for words!  Especially as that was the gayest hour of all in Tangier and I was so spoiled by so much attention.

It’s as light as day on the main streets of Tangier at night they have awfully strong lights.  Here the streets are not lighted and they carry lanterns or go in the dark.  I tell you I had a woozy time leaving CasaBlanca.  I hadn’t figured on its being so dark at five in the morn.  Anyway in Tangier there’d be oceans of people up and talking a blue stream.  But I had to go as far as from your house to town zig zag through little narrow streets and not a human being except Arabs asleep along the way.  If there hadn’t been a big bright moon I never should have found the way.  I didn’t know it very well and everything looked so different with the shops all closed up.  I had everything I owned in my Moorish sack in my hand and I thought how dead easy it would be to be robbed.  It never once occurred to me how it was going to be till I was on the way.  The diligence was about like riding all day in that old Kaneville stage, still it was less tiresome than a mule, only I felt rather sea sick next day.

I take my meals at the hotel, which is French, and the cooking likewise.  They asked 12 frs. a day to stay there.  Mr. Cross had been in the country for thirty-five years and spoke Arabic perfectly.  In fact they all do – the boys were born here….