Cost of sending four rather heavy parcels to England, about Frs. 400. Two others not quite so heavy about Frs. 100 the two. The red tape in post offices here even worse than in France. The two which E. and I dispatched personally took over two hours. First about half an hour’s wait to get a place at the counter. This is not due to Xmas, as it is always much the same. The endless filling up of forms and the usual search by the officials through large books to find out which forms should be used. Then the usual complaint that the parcels were insufficiently secure. One had not thick enough string, the other which was enveloped in cloth had to be sewn up. Then a complaint because the parcels were not sealed. Fresh journey to buy sealing wax. This kind of thing seems inseparable from French post offices. Notice that most of the minor officials here, of the type who in India would be Indians, are French. Eg. all the post-office clerks and the clerks in the other offices, and even most of the traffic policemen. Supply of native clerks evidently does not exist. Most Arabs who are in contact with Europeans speak a little French, but have not yet met an Arab whose French seemed to be perfect.
On Xmas eve there was a very heavy frost here, which did a good deal of damage. From the type of vegetation and what the Arabs say I do not think this can be usual. Notice, however, that oranges and lemons were quite unaffected by it.
The French here seem to take even less notice of Xmas than in France. They celebrate New Year. Arabs all acquainted with New Year and use it as a pretext for begging. There are said to be less tourists than usual this year.
People gathering lucerne draw it up with their hands instead of cutting with the sickle, thus saving an inch or two on each plant. The people in the little walled village near the house give the impression of owning their land communally, as they all turn out and do the same jobs, weeding, ploughing, etc., together.
Examined recently the grave of what was evidently a fairly rich man, in a mud enclosure. A concrete grave of the usual pattern, with a sort of little oven evidently for burnt offerings at the head. No name on the grave. On a tree over the grave various little charms, a sort of little leather purse. Inside it a bunch of wool and a paper with writing.