Tizzi Ouzou is on coast just right of center
by Linda Grondahl
When I was
in high school, I was fascinated by some of the names I read about
when studying world geography. Three of my favorites were Ougoudougou,
Addis Abada, and Tizi Ouzou. Little did I dream that 40 plus years
later I would marry an Algerian and thus have opportunity to travel
to that country. So on my first trip in 2001, I was so excited
I would be spending some days in the capital city Algiers and
that Tizi Ouzou was only a short distance away. However, it took
me three trips to Algeria before I got to Tizi.
from Algeria to Oran
One: I was sent by my husband to get a first hand view of
his country. He wanted me to see the country through my own eyes
and not just from his eyes for my first trip. I was to be taken
care of by two women friends of his who had friends and family
everywhere and would be able to show me more than if I stayed
with his family. We were to spend five days in Algiers with the
sister of one of my new friends. We were definitely going to Tizi
Ouzou. Well, as the days went by, whenever I asked when we were
going to Tizi, I would get the answer "redda" or tomorrow.
On day six, I was told to get ready we were taking a bus to Oran-the
opposite direction from Tizi. Disappointed, I talked to my husband
Khal (in the U.S.) and finally got the reason
we were not going –
was still too dangerous to travel the road from Algiers to Tizi
Ouzou. This was one of the main hideouts of the terrorists (the
same boys of Al Queda).
that they didn't tell me that we had no chance of going was another
example of one of the cultural differences that I have discerned
about their culture and mine. They do not want to disappoint a
guest so they tell the guest what they think the guest wants to
hear, even if that if far from the truth. There was never any
chance that I would get to my onomatopoeic city, but because they
knew how badly I wanted to go there, the answer was always tomorrow.
Ironically, the old school bus that we took from Algiers to Oran
(that trip is for a later story) had the name Tizi Ouzou written
on the side.
Picking up Kheira, my mother-in-law, Mohamed (brother-in-law), Amin (nephew),
Abdel-Malik (nephew), Bea (sister in law).
Retired Libyan general, Ahmed poses with Khal and Linda
Khal waiting for taxi in Tizi Ouzou
Two: I went with my husband two years later. Most of the terrorists
had been wiped out, so he promised me we would get to Tizi Ouzou.
We went to France to visit some of his family and ended up taking
the same plane with his sister-in-law and her friend Monique,
who was a Frenchwoman. They were going to go stay with her family
in a very small village. Khal said that it was a shame for someone
to go to Algeria for the first time and see nothing. So, he decided
we would take her to Algiers, Tizi Ouzou·and Ghardia (a fascinating
area with seven towns built on hills). Well, wouldn’t you know
it, after we got to Algeria, made our plans, Khal informs me that
we don’t have enough time to see it all, so guess what got left
out? Yup, Tizi Ouzou.
By, 2003 I
had joined Danse Mahgreb, a troupe who specializes in
Kabylie dances (those from the area of Tizi Ouzou).
Dancer Maghreb: Jan 14 MECDA show
Wearing clothes still seen on the streets of Tizi Ouzou
Janine, Jasmyn, Heather, Linda, Marsha
now took on a different meaning beyond adding a cool sounding
city name to my list.
is the capital of the Kabylie region, the home of one of the major
Amazhieg (Berber) groups.
Three: No tizzing or pretense about Tizi. We went to Algeria
only for five days to get Khal’s mother and bring her to the US
for her fist trip. She stayed with us for 4 and a half months.
(I have marvelous stories about her wonderful visit.)
Four: Success! 2004, the plans were firm. We would spend three
days in Algiers and during that time we would take a taxi to Tizi.
terrorism, no excuses, no problems. Why did I believe that?
When we arrive
on our fight from Cairo to Algiers, we are informed at the airport
tourist service that there are no hotel rooms in Algiers due to
the I0th Arab Olympic Games being held there. How could we be
so dumb? We had just watched the opening ceremonies on Egypt TV
for three hours a couple of days before in Cairo. We saw the entire
Arab world represented in Algiers, thousands of spectators, athletes,
entourages, and reporters. But, somehow we made no connection
between TV and reality. After several hours, they found one room
for one night at the biggest hotel in Algiers, the Au Rassi. It
was a suite with a view of the Mediterranean. No problem, it was
also only $I00. But, after spending one night there, we had to
leave. Khal said we would go to his hometown and Tizi Ouzou would
have to wait for another year.
But, while he
was making one last effort on the phone calling around, I sat down
at a table in the lobby next to a well dressed man.
I can’t stop myself from talking, I poured out my sad tale during
the next I0 minutes to this gentlemen who turned out to be the
retired Security General of Libya, and he assured me that he would
take care of my problem.
He was a friend
of the manager of the hotel. During the next three hours, he talked
to people at the hotel and on the phone and showed me pictures
of his days as body guard to the former king and then worked for
Qaddafi himself. Sure enough a few hours later, we were back in
Next day we
are in a taxi to Tizi Ouzou. As we walk down the main street of
the town I think of a lot of old cliches like, the grass is always
greener on the other side; be careful what you wish for, you might
get it; the journey is more exciting than the destination and
on and on.
is a rather dusty, tired looking town population around 85,000.
We went to the Cultural Center in the middle of town and found
it to be very small and not very interesting.
hills were nice, but I found out much later, that not too far
from Tizi starts the spectacular scenery that I have seen in pictures.
The Djurdjura Mountains have almost all year round snow and the
government is in the process of trying to revive the tourist ski
industry. The plus side of this disappointment was that the people
were so nice and friendly. We had lots of fun meeting and chatting
with all kinds of people. Another positive was that I was able
to purchase clothing, accessories, music and, best of all, Kabyle
jewelry for the dance troupe that no one can say is not authentic!
street in Tizi- examples of Kabylie dress
Trip #2: In Marseilles -
That's my sisters-in-law Yamina and Fatiha, their kids
Rashida, Sourya, Rania and Yamina's two grandsons Hakim
President of Algiers: Boutiflika with writing in
French, Arabic and Tamazih - the language of the
people of Tizi Ouzou
Approaching Tizi Ouzou
Trip #2: Momument to the maryters of the revolution in
Linda and Monique of Marseilles
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