Have just returned after spending a week at Taddert in the Atlas, about 95 km. from Marrakech. T is at 1650 metres elevation, ie. about 5000 ft. When one gets about 2000 feet above the plain (itself about 1000 feet above sea level) one gets to a different type of vegetation, oaks and firs, more or less stunted, fairly good grass, of the downland type, and above about 4000 feet walnut trees, which grow profusely and very well, but evidently don’t grow wild. The fig tree does grow at about 5000, but evidently doesn’t do well. Almonds seem to do well. On the whole the mountain slopes are exceedingly bare and only begin to be well forested when one gets about 1000 feet above the valleys through which the main road runs. The lower slopes for about 500 feet above a village are often completely bare, mere chipped-up limestone like a slag-heap. Probably this is partly due to goats. The French Gov.t is now apparently beginning to do something about reafforestation, and is going to prohibit grazing on some of the hills. Evidently this area, even round the motor-road, is only in process of being accurately surveyed, as the landmarks for the survey people have only newly been set up. Road is good though not too wide. The Bus does the journey from Marrakech to Taddert in 3 hours and the return in about 2 1/2 . There is a great deal of what appears to be iron ore in the mountain, but evidently quite unexploited. In the inhabited valleys there does not seem to be so much shortage of water as down here.
If one looks round from a high peak one sees that only about one valley in twenty, even round the motor-road, is uninhabited. Most of the valleys are mere clefts, and evidently the soil is only cultivable in those into which the sun gets for a good deal of the day. At this time of year there is frost every night, which hangs on in shady places for most of the day. Snow drifts everywhere, but nowhere below about 6000 ft. where the hills are impassable because of snow. Cultivation is of the terrace type, much as in the hills in Burma. The terraces are very skillfully done, walled up with limestone, as in Spain, and the soil appears to be deep, 4 feet or so, though of course it is artificially made up. In moderately shady valleys and along banks of streams there are small but quite good pastures for the cows, the goats being grazed right on the tops of the hills. Goats are as down here, sheep mostly of a different kind, with exceedingly silky wool. From what people say locally and from general appearances it appears that all the villagers own a small piece of land, and of course grazing is free, though evidently each village has its recognized beat. Could not make an accurate judgement, but I should not say that more than one acre is cultivated per head of population. It appears that barley is grown in winter-spring (the barley is just coming up now, though not so advanced as down here), this is cut in June and then maize is sown. The local French consider that the Chleuh are good cultivators, and they evidently use plenty of manure. Ploughing is done with cow and donkey, as here. The people have plenty of animals, and no doubt their staple food is barley and goats milk.
The villages are quite different from those in the plains, as they are not walled in. The houses are of mud, very occasionally limestone, and square, with flat roofs. These are thatched over with wild broom and then covered with earth, which is possible owing to the dryness. When one looks down at a village from above one sees that as a rule all the houses on the same level have a common roof, though inside they are separate. This points to a certain amount of communal life. Practically none have glass windows. What woodwork there is is mostly crude.
The Chleuh seem to be rather remarkable people. The men are not greatly different in appearance from the Arabs, but the women are exceedingly striking. In general they are rather fair, sometimes fair enough to have red in their cheeks, with black hair and remarkable eyes. None are veiled, and all wear a cloth around their heads tied with blue or black cords, the dominant colours of their dress being red and blue. All the women have tattooing on their chins and sometimes down each cheek. Their manner is much less timid than that of most Arab women. Virtually the whole population is ragged and there is no evidence of any being richer than the others. The children for the most part have nothing on but a ragged blanket. Begging is almost universal, and the women have discovered that their jewellery (amber and rough silver, some of it exceedingly well worked) is liked by Europeans and will sell it for prices that cannot be much above the value of the silver. The children beg as soon as they can walk and will follow for miles over mountain tracks in hopes of a sou. Tobacco is greatly appreciated by those who do smoke, but I notice that a great many do not, and none of the women. Children beg for bread and are glad to get it. Nevertheless it is difficult to be certain about the real amount of poverty. Probably there is no actual destitution, at any rate no one is homeless or quite propertyless. I notice under the walnut trees quantities of nuts which have been left to rot, which does not suggest serious hunger. But evidently everyone’s life is at a low level. In some parts of the mountains carpets, leatherwork etc. are made. Near Taddert the chief trade apart from agriculture seems to be charcoal-burning. The people can of course get good wood (mostly oak) free, though possibly the Gov.t will interfere with this later, and they cook it in exceedingly primitive earth ovens and sell it at Frs. 12 for a large sack (about Frs. 35 in Marrakech.) Local physique is pretty good, though the people are not particularly large or very athletic in appearance. All walk well, and the women easily walk up steep hillsides carrying very large bundles of wood or a three-gallon stone jar of water. Apart from their own Berber dialect all speak Arabic, but few or none French. A few have reddish hair. There seems to be a Jew or two in most of the villages, not easily distinguishable from the rest of the population.
Graveyards not quite the same as the Arab ones, though the people are Mahomedans. The graveyard is generally a patch of good grass and the cattle browse among the graves. Owing to plentiful stone the graves are generally covered with a cairn, not a mere mound of earth, as here, but they have no names or other indications of individuals. Judging from a few that had fallen in, it seems usual to make the grave as a kind of cave with flat slabs of rock, and then cover this over, originally perhaps as a protection against wild animals. Some of the graves are immensely long, 8 or 10 feet. I saw one funeral. It was done in the usual way by a party of friends, one of whom kept up a rather perfunctory kind of wailing.
Talked a number of times in Taddert with a German in the Foreign Legion, who is there on some job I could not understand, something to do with some electric installation. A friendly intelligent man, who speaks French well. Has been eight years in the Legion and does not seem particularly discontented. Intends to stay his full time to get his small pension. Says they do not give you free tobacco in the French army and that you have to serve some time before your pay reaches even a franc a day, so that newcomers generally cannot smoke. No particular political opinions. Says there were 5 million unemployed when he left Germany and that he cannot go back as he is wanted for desertion. Did not express any opinion about Hitler. Seemed mildly pro-Government in the Spanish war.
Today the news of the fall of Barcelona has come. Nobody in Marrakech seems much interested, though the papers are splashing it. I note that there are at least 2 Socialist weeklies in Morocco, the Depeche de Fez and another whose name I forget. Not extreme and evidently (this is really why French Socialist papers are allowed to run and Arab ones not) not anti-imperialist. But both they and the P.S.F.  “Presse” keep up the abusive and scurrilous tradition of French newspapers, which the more moderate papers do not. eg. the Depeche de Fez makes accusations of German corruption of the French press, naming names. This could not be done in newspapers either in England or in India without a prosecution, though the papers would probably only be fined. On the other hand, evidently no newspaper in Morocco can suggest that Morocco should be independent, without being suppressed. If the papers are reporting truthfully, there were demonstrations among the Spaniards at Tangiers to celebrate the fall of Barcelona, without any kind of counter-demonstrations. Yet I had the impression that the pro-Government Spaniards in Tangiers slightly outnumbered the others.
The hotel at Taddert exactly like a cheap Paris hotel, and ditto the one or two cafes on route. The people one met, also, completely [like] the ordinary lower-middle-class French, living exactly the same life as in France except that they are obliged to speak a little Arabic.
 Parti Social Français; see 511, n 3. Peter Davison