Algeria’s Allures: Hard to Get In
Algeria is a place that I’ve thought about visiting many times. It has this strange allure, as if because it is difficult to go there, it must be worth the hassles.
Paula Tranzini made the successful attempt to climb the wall. She got a visa and got a chance to see Algiers, Constantine and Ghardaia, cities that will escape only the most undaunted world traveler.
Here is an excerpt from her story on GoNOMAD, about visiting Algeria.
I took a flight with Air Algeria to Ghardaia, where the Mozabite community live. On the plane, I was the only foreigner so I started talking with local people in French.
People were so nice that they suggested several places for me to go to. Once at the airport in Ghardaia, I was asked where I was going to stay and the purpose of my visit.
Algeria is a country that has oil so tourism is not as important as in Morocco or Tunisia, their neighbors.
Although I was traveling alone, I decided to take a one-day tour in Ghardaia because it was not easy to move without a car.
The guide came to the hotel to pick me up. There were several villages around Ghardaia and of course the most interesting part, at least for me, was seeing the Mozabite women.
The Mozabites are a Berber community known because their women wear white hijabs. Those who are married only show one eye. The single ones show both eyes and nose.
In some areas of the city, taking pictures is forbidden. In fact, there is an area where it is compulsory to go with a local guide and you cannot take pictures of people, except for from far or in case you ask before.
Women hide when they see a camera so each time I wanted to take a picture, I did it with my cell phone and very fast.
I felt very stressed each time I wanted to take a picture. I thought that someone was going to ask me to erase them, but this did not happen. I did not see tourists with professional cameras taking pictures, for example.
You can also buy carpets and typical souvenirs. Carpets can be sent to your country, it is one of the typical attractions from the Maghreb and the Middle East.
People like drinking tea in Algeria. So the tea ceremony is very well-known also with some sweets. I had tea three times per day minimum.
Algeria is not a cheap country. This is because they have oil. There was a lot of security as it is not far from Mali. Mozabites also live in Tunisia, on the island of Djerba, but I couldn’t see them when I went there.
I slept in a guesthouse where I ate typical Algerian food and enjoyed talking with locals while eating dinner.
I did not even know that New Berber year was the same day I was going to be in Algeria.
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