Traveling with the Touareg
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!
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
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
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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,
front row Linda, Heather, Jasmyn
fort overlooking the harbor in Oran
admiring Kabyle dresses |
to the Martyrs of the Revolution
cook and his assistant after serving us couscous.
Ladies Lavatory |
off again (about every half hour)
My husband Khal helping our
guide gather twigs for the fire |
with Ahmed at his favorite restaurant
with Kabyl friends in the city of Tizzi Ouzou
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
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A report from a contestant's point of view!
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'fun factor'; Belly dancing comes with great music, exciting moves,
noisy coin belts and its own special dress code.
Rhythm and Reason Series, Article
6 Unexpected Mishaps by Mary Ellen Donald
invite you to chuckle with me as I retell several gems of last
year. I wouldn’t dare to boast of any lesson you must learn
from all of this, and discovery of a meaning is up to you!
My Adventure Begins! by Asmahan
last, another North Beach Memory! "I was creating my life
as an adventure, I was making my own destiny; this was Kismet!"