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ThereAndBackAgain "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Algeria - Feb 2008

ALGERIA | Tuesday, 26 February 2008 | Views [1176]

Well back I did go! And yes it was worth it. We had a lovely time.

Once again travelling through the Tardart region to the south east Djanet, then onto the Dunes and Essendilene areas further north.  I loved the peacefulness of the valley at Essendilene - Tolkein must have envisaged some of these rock formations, they are quite ethereal.

Dunes, dunes and more dunes - stunningly beautiful landscapes, like something from another planet. In the dunes, the colours in the sand are astonishing - everything from deep reds, ochry yellows, whitish greys, to greeny blues. And textures abound too - soft sand that slips through your fingers, dangerous sand that can entrap a vehicle, coarser grained, firmer sand on which you almost leave little in the way of a footprint, but not quite. Tracks abound everywhere - from the giant beetle, to the muffalo, the camel to the ubiquitous cat cat (4x4). And the bird - in particular the Mula Mula - black with a white head and tail, smaller than an English Blackbird, bigger than a Robin. I've never seen such an inquisitive bird. It will come up close and look at you, cocking its head enquiringly. I woke up one morning to two small finch like birds only 6 inches or so from my face. They have no fear.

This was a very laid back trip - rising around 7, breakfasting, getting on the move around 8:30-9ish, settling for lunch somewhere about midday, resting up to escape the heat of the day, and finally settling for the evening around sunset. A roaring fire to keep you warm in the evening, with music, singing and dancing. Playing games - the universal UNO and the local Tisdas - like draughts but different in that the pieces move in all directions, one square at a time to move, two square jumps to take "eat" your opponents pieces - being used to unidirectional draughts it was quite hard to think in multidimensions!

Managed to achieve a very brief hook up with Sala, a driver from the Nov trip, after we spotted the tour group he was with and raced across the sand to catch up with him.

It was nice to meet Ahmed's friends and members of his family including one of his brothers, two of his sisters, and most surprisingly meeting his mother. I liked seeing him in his own element enjoying their company, chatting with friends in town and making music. I would like to spend more time next visit in Djanet getting to know his friends more - Alleed, the football fan, who was envious that I have been to some of the great football stadiums like Man U. It seems like he knows everyone, there is a companionship and camaraderie between people that you no longer see here - whether it is a business relationship networking when the guides all meet at the airport, or the social networking at the cafe in the early evening when the main thoroughfare is a bit like the equivalent of The Promenade - everybody is there to see and be seen, to chat and be chatted to, to drink tea. Well at least all the men are there - the woman's life - well that's another matter. It will only become visible with more language and closer acceptance.

And talking of language, my French is still not good enough but having found the Michel Thomas Course I will persevere - it is a completely different approach to learning to speak a language. One based on the use of linguistic building locks to construct sentences of increasing complexity. But I do need immersion, no English speakers! My Tamashek has increased as well - I now know a few more introduction phrases including how to say what my name is and ask someone's name, and my numbers, as well as good morning, good night, how are you? And I can sing the first verse of Terakaft's Rastaman Aridad!

I do hope I have the opportunity to return and to reciprocate the hospitality shown by him and his family to me to him here one day. However it will be a long gap with my boat trip looming and life could change direction very quickly for either of us. We shall see. Meanwhile the phone and email will have to do us. I didn't want to leave. But as Ahmed says you have to leave in order to return. And return I certainly hope to do. Meanwhile his photo, Tuareg music and lots of good memories will now accompany me half way round the world.

Tags: Deserts

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