The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion A special piece of America in Tangier, Morocco

The Hafa Cafe where Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles used to hang out, in Tangier, Morocco, on May 6. (Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui/For The Washington Post)

Kudos to Sudarsan Raghavan for his May 13 The World article, “In a tight alley, Tangier’s last link to the Beat Generation feels broken,” in which he tracked down Moroccan writer and artist Mohammed Mrabet, who had known Paul Bowles and other expatriate American literary figures who lived in colorful Tangier in the 1950s and ’60s.

My only regret was the article’s brief and vague reference to “a museum on the Rue d’Amerique.” I wish the reporter had told readers more about that unique place, which dates back to about 1821 and is now called the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies. It is not just a public museum but also a lively cultural center and a research facility. And it has a whole wing dedicated to Bowles, the remarkable writer, translator and composer who lived more than 50 years in his beloved Tangier.

What makes the site a special American historic landmark is that it is a rare overseas place listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Still owned by the U.S. government, the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies is managed by a nonprofit foundation. I recently accompanied a group of former Peace Corps volunteers who visited the truly charming museum and saw how it effectively tells the rich history of long, close U.S.-Moroccan relations and the importance of understanding Northwest Africa.

Michael H. Anderson, Arlington