Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

MOTORING IN ALGERIA AND TU

SECOND PAPER: FROM CONSTANTINE TO THE
BORDER OF TRIPOLI

BY ABIGAIL H. FITCH

IT'S

TS unusual site makes Constantine a conspicuous feature in the lovely landThe city stands on an immense, isolated rock or, rather, series of rocks, which rise from the plain perpendicularly for one thousand feet; it is encircled on the south and east by a great gorge, one hundred and seventy meters deep, through which rushes the sinister river Rummel. Constantine is the Cirta of the Romans, and was considered by them, as it is considered by the French to-day, virtually impregnable. Nevertheless, though it has withstood eighty sieges, it has been conquered by the Arabs, Turks, and French.

scape.

There are two entrances to the chasm, one being near the handsome bridge which connects the city with the railway station. It was this entrance that we elected to take. We descended a flight of steps into what appeared to be a pretty ravine filled with flowering fruit-trees and shrubs. The day was charming. A roar as of A roar as of many rushing torrents mounted up to us. Dashing waterfalls came darkly foaming from the steep, slimy walls. The sun had vanished suddenly without warning, and brooding twilight reigned. We continued to descend. A frail, wooden suspensionbridge spanned the chasm, from the middle of which a view up and down the

GARTH
JONES

gorge was obtained. On one sid
cipitous walls rise six hundred
the other, one looks into the m
black, dome-shaped vault of extr
height, through which the Rum
ders and takes a glorious leap
valley.

On a fresh, pleasant morning good-by to Constantine, and tool to Philippeville. After a few ho over mountains as bare as billi we reached El Arrouch, and into a lovely valley dedicated t ture of the olive and the vine. to which we motored the ne the frontier town of Algeria. never loiter here unless it is fo pose of being reimbursed the on an automobile when ent country.

We arrived at noon, and, afte at the clean little hotel, went forth to the custom-house, only formed that it was a holiday ar ness could be transacted until th As 1198 francs were to be refu was no alternative but to spen in La Calle. The people-Fr a scant sprinkling of Italians, suring on the bay or picnicking the woods. Toward evening

to return, a merry crowd, singing and indisposed or not, as a preventive against
dancing along the street, with arms inter- fever.
locked. In the bright, little town there is A few miles beyond La Croix we en-

[graphic][ocr errors]

THE SITE OF CONSTANTINE (ON THE TOP OF THE ROCK AT THE LEFT)

AND THE GORGES OF THE RUMMEL

much gaiety, yet I fear there is also much tered Tunis.

tered Tunis. Vast forests of cork-trees illness, for in the post-office could be read abound in the region. The trees are not a notice in French and Arabic advising so tall or so fantastically shaped as I have every one to take from twenty-five to seen them in the mountains of Spain, but thirty centigrams of quinine daily, whether commercially they are quite as valuable. Every ten years the tree is stripped of its from which you gaze with condescension bark, and when full-grown it yields sev- upon your strange environment: you are eral hundred pounds of cork.

[graphic]

THE SITE OF ANCIENT CARTHAGE AND THE REMAINS OF HER HARBORS

Zadi Abou-Hassan or Ahmed Mustapha, In Babouch, the first Tunisian village, and Allah is great, and Mohammed is his we were detained a short time by the prophet. And something else happens: courteous officials of the customs, and you have lost your way, and care not a again followed the magnificent mountain fig, not an amber-colored date, that this causeway, which there made a sudden is so. After wandering through a labydrop to the borders of the Vediterranean. rinth of little streets, you finally arrive at We had enjoyed the drive over the moun- the "souks,” the bazaars of old Tunis, tains in a manner almost jubilant, but and one look convinces you that they are truth compels the admission that there the same to-day that they were five hunwere certain steep descents which lent a

dred years ago.

There are a hundred doubtful charm to the landscape.

thousand Mussulmans in Tunis, and you Before noon we reached Tabarka, on are willing to believe that ninety thousand the sea, and after replenishing our gaso- are shopping, or selling, or strolling in the lene and taking luncheon, we continued souks. our journey to the capital, called by the Hadj Mohammed's shop cannot be enArabs “The White Burnoose of the tered; it is too diminutive. You sit on a Prophet.” Along the coast were high convenient bench before the door, and he sand-dunes of deep orange-red. After sits cross-legged in the middle of the shop, crossing an immense plateau, we descended from which, by stretching out his hand, into a fertile plain dotted with well-culti- he can reach every article of his valuable vated farms and low, whitewashed farm- and fragrant stock. He opens his bottles houses. The evening was still young of essences, rose, heliotrope, amber, violet, when we entered Tunis la Blanche, Tunis geranium, one after the other, and rubs a l'Odorante, long held by the Mussulman drop of each on your glove, your sleeve, to be the most beautiful of Eastern cities. your shoulder, till you are intoxicated with It is undoubtedly a city that captivates; it sweet odors. He does this for the pleasure possesses the mysterious charm of the of your company, and by no means because Orient, with the prosaic comforts of the he desires you to buy. He converses in Occident.

From the modern French excellent French on the increased cost of town one can step into the land of the living in Tunis since the tourists have Arabian Nights and wander with the rich come; on the high price of chickens ; on the merchant of Bagdad through strange, fas- scarcity of good vegetables; and in the cinating streets which never affront the same breath calls your attention to the most sensitive sense.

delightful fragrance of the “vrai jasmin The moment you pass through the de Tunis” by a perfumed drop on the Porte de France and enter a tangle of lit- lapel of your coat. In the meanwhile tle streets, the trammels of your identity Achmet or Morabec or Imbrahim brings drop from you like an inconvenient man- black coffee in small, white cups, and tle; your Western personality ceases for Hadj Mohammed Cabet begs you to honor the time to be the center of the cosmos, him by drinking; and what with the coffee, the perfumes, and the graceful atten- in a shop, before eventide every merchant tions of the incomparable Hadj, you end in the souks knows the exact article he by gaily purchasing more than you want. bought and, to the ultimate sous, what he When you enter your hotel three hours paid for it, and every guide in Tunis is later, every person in it with a nose is equally well informed. It is safe to assert aware that you have that day been to the that if that same foreigner escapes the Souk el Attarin.

lures awaiting him next day, or any day Each morning an auction is held in during the remainder of his sojourn in the the Souk el Trouk. In the narrow streets, town, he either possesses the wisdom of packed with Jews and Arabs, every one is Solon or has no money left to spend. It crying, bargaining, disputing prices, and comes to the same thing in the end, and no one ever seems to buy. The auctioneers that somehow, remains a comforting walk up and down, pushing their way thought. through the human mass, holding high The imperative trip to take from Tunis above their heads a single vivid-colored is to the site of ancient Carthage, and waistcoat, a shawl, or a soiled, white bur- one's interest does not languish on disnoose, and shrieking the prices. Women covering that absolutely nothing remains sit at the entrances of diminutive shops of the famous city and that the few scatand watch with eyes peering through black tered monumental ruins are of Roman, not veils. They have brought articles to sell, of Phenician, origin. The beauty of the and are waiting the return of their auc- panoramic view from the crest of the tioneers. Now and then a tall Arab halts Byrsa (the hill formerly occupied by the before a cluster of chattering women and, citadel of Carthage) is as great now as singling out one, offers her a pinch of when the fugitives from Tyre gazed upon snuff. With her thumb and forefinger it. The Gulf of Tunis shines as deeply she takes the snuff, and sneezes gratefully. blue, the distant islands Zimbra and ZinIf a foreigner purchases anything of value bretta are as lightly slumberous in their

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

l'rom a photograph, copyright by Lchnert und Landruck, Tunis REMAINS OF THE ODÉON THEATER AT THE SITE OF ANCIENT CARTHAGE

[graphic]

sea-cradle, and the tinted
chain of bay-encircling
mountains are as grand.
But there is a charm in
the view to-day that was
not there then. It lies
in the white, flat-roofed
houses glistening behind
waving palm-trees, in the
flower-studded gardens,
in the wide fields of
wheat, red poppies, and
yellow daisies, in the
majestic sweep of ocean-going steamers.
Yet for all the beauty of the present,
we are held in the spell of the past.
Hamilcar and Hannibal move here in
mighty strides; Hasdrubal, and his patri-
otic wife (she who strangled her children
and threw herself into the flames of the
burning citadel rather than submit to the
enemy) rise from the shades of the ages.
Here Scipio hurls the power of Rome
against a vanished glory, and Cato the
eloquent calls across the sea, "Cartha-
ginem delendam esse." And above all
these great and terrible figures stands
Dido, the love-lorn queen of whom Vergil
sang. With careful eye I measured the
land that was inclosed by a bull's hide,
cut into fine strips by the astute lady; and
I selected the place where later she caused
her funeral-pyre to be erected when the
faithless Æneas left her.

From the high tower of the mosque in the Casbah of Tunis a white flag is raised every day at noon. It is the town clock, and is half an hour faster than the clocks

OUTSIDE THE SOUTH GATE OF SUSA

ing leisurely south toward th Tripoli. Our route led us plains of the Sahel, through little seaport towns of Susa a finally into the great desert ag five miles of desolate, uncul try not unlike the barren re tain portions of Arizona and separates Tunis from Susa camels, tents of Bedouins, a little Bedouin children, wh guarding small flocks of sheep, skipped nimbly back front of our automobile, racking anxiety of the chauf landscape far from monoton

After leaving Susa, the with tall, prickly-pear bush of the country, and travers stretches of olive-trees. I particular one grove with t that their gnarled and holl been filled with packed eart stability. One is struck wit vineyards in a land where

« AnkstesnisTęsti »