ad 4 Fahtiem

Map ofAlgeria, Tizzi Ouzou is on coast just right of center
Gilded Serpent presents...
Traveling to
Tizi Ouzou

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.

Bus from Algeria to Oran

Trip Number 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 –

it 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).

The reason 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

Trip Number 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

Getting there now took on a different meaning beyond adding a cool sounding city name to my list.

Tizi is the capital of the Kabylie region, the home of one of the major Amazhieg (Berber) groups.

Trip Number 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.)

Trip Number 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.

No 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.

Since 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 our room.

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.

Tizi 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.

The surrounding 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! 


Main 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 and Elias

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 Algiers;
Linda and Monique of Marseilles

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ghardia, another town, another story

Ready for more?
11-17-05 Traveling with the Touareg by Linda Grondahl
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.

5-29-06 P.U.R.E. Dance by Dhyanis
A collective of dancers and drummers plan to take music and dance out into the streets this summer on July 15 in cities across the nation and globe.

5-27-06 Bellydance in Iceland by Sabah
Recently, I was able to witness first hand how truly global the world of bellydance has become. Dances of the Middle East and North Africa are no longer a mystery and unknown “exotic” style of dance.

3-7-06 Streets of Cairo- Egyptian Rhythm, Language and Dance by Keti Sharif
Cairo's streets are much like its dance – streams of freestyle movement guided by intuition rather than rules. There are no 'principles' as such in both circumstances – it’s the organic-ness of Egyptian life that creates order in chaos.

3-5-06 Cairo 2005 How to Eat, Drink, Sleep, and Breathe Raqs Sharqi, Part Two of Four-Dance Lessons by Andrea
In Egypt, if a woman is only going to wear one item of make-up, it will be black eyeliner.

ad 4 Casbah Dance

ad 4 oasis dance company

ad 4 Casbah Dance