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Gilded Serpent presents...
Traveling with the Touareg
Linda Grondahl

Hi! Here's a few pictures from my recent October trip to Algeria. They are from the deep south in the Hoggar National Park Area and the town of Tamanrasset. The Tourag people (one of many Berber groups in Algeria) used to be nomadic but now many have moved to town and many are involved in the tourist industry. Most have traded their camels in for a Toyota 4x4 and even their camels are now involved in the tourist trade!

I've joined a new band in Tamanrasset!
click on photo for slightly larger version



This was my 5th trip to Algeria since 2000 and I have been amazed at the rapid economic development. The government is working very hard to make Algeria a very popular tourist destination once again.

Algeria is the second largest country in Africa and boasts year round snow in parts of the Kabyle Mountains, incredible Mediterranean coastal towns and vistas, the Roman ruin areas of Tipaza and Timgad, the spectacular city of Constantine with its 900 foot gorges spanned by many foot bridges, the five oasis hill towns of Ghardia at the "Bab el Sahara", the door to the Sahara, the rock desert of the Hoggar, the 6000 year old cave paintings in the sand dune desert of the Tassili, the town of Tlemcen near the Moroccan border, the natural sulphur hot spring spas of Beni Hanifa , the city of Oran, (the home of Rai music), the capital city Algiers with its famous Casbah, and a multitude of other interesting sights.

The Algerians speak French and a dialect of Arabic that is commonly called Darja or Maghrebi. However, there are some 76 major dialects within the country and the main Berber language Tamizigh has been recognized as an official language of Algeria. English is now being taught in the schools as relations are being strengthened between Algeria and the United States. Travel within the country consists of Air Algerie, rental cars are available and interurban taxis are cheap (a distance comparable to San Francisco to Los Angeles would cost about $8.00). Hotels range from the brand new Sheraton in Oran at $400 a night and the Hotel St. George in Algiers (where Eisenhower stayed during Word War II) at $100 to the hermitage of Pierre deFaucauld in LasKrem at 9000 feet for about $3.00.

My taxi driver who was willing to
take me on as his third wife.

Dining on the Mediterranean in Arzew
(near where the U.S. gets a lot of natural gas).
Food is delicious and fresh, but don't except the usual Middle Eastern food, they don't have tabouli or babaganoush! Couscous is the national dish and most families have it on Friday. There is a definite French and Spanish influence (check out the map- it's only a half hour by plane from Alicante, Spain, to Algiers).

  Music ranges from old classic Andalousian music (I once attended a student concert where 28 teenagers played one song for 30 minutes, 8 of them female oud players), to old and modern Rai music, Kabyle traditional songs, and a host of local styles. Dance styles are as different as can be, from the famous (or infamous) Ouled Nail, the court dances of Andalous, the scarf dances in Algerois style, the Toureg war dances, the burnose dance, and the mountain dances of the Kabyle.

Danse Maghreb, a San Francisco based troupe, was formed in 2003. The company members have many years of performance experience and share a love of North African dance. They are dedicated to presenting the music and dance from the region in culturally authentic ways. They have been regularly invited to perform for the Bay Area Amizigh (Berber) community. They are currently the only company in the Western United States to perform the dances from the Kabyle.

Danse Maghreb has been fortunate to work with Moh Alileche, (Berkeley based musician) and his traditional Kabyle ensemble. They have performed regularly at Ashkenaz, been involved in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions, and entertained at many fairs, festivals and local Kabyle celebrations. Danse Maghreb has also studied with Amel Tafsout, the international known Algerian dancer and teacher.

back row Amanda, Donna, Liliane, Marsha, Janine
front row Linda, Heather, Jasmyn

Spanish fort overlooking the harbor in Oran

Linda admiring Kabyle dresses

Monument to the Martyrs of the Revolution
in Algiers

Our cook and his assistant after serving us couscous.

The Ladies Lavatory

Cooling off

Cooling off again (about every half hour)

My husband Khal helping our guide gather twigs for the fire

Tea with Ahmed at his favorite restaurant


Linda with Kabyl friends in the city of Tizzi Ouzou

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