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Occasional Dairy - Algeria

Tuesday, 19th April 2005  Alger, Algeria
Yippee! We have a WATER SACK! A huge thank you to Neil Jewitt, Rachid Sekkai, Karim and Karimo who have spent hours over coming the numerous problems of Ortlieb and the Royal Mail to arrange the delivery of a replacement water sack to Alger by courier for us after ours split. The sack doesn't look like much and Stani has spent many a hour whinging how much she dislikes it (the 10l sack isn't nearly as user friendly as the 5l sacks we used on our previous voyage through the Americas (and are still using now)). A thousand kisses to them for super hero help.

Saturday, 16th April 2005  Alger, Algeria
Our military friends on their motor bikes were completely amazing today. Our entry into Alger was a complete breeze and seriously - the city has some major traffic!

Wednesday, 13th April 2005  Tipasa, Algeria
Just to let you all know - due to the constant demands for more photos we've added some of our Bolivian photos to the Americas page. You can view them here. I'm sitting in our room at the hostel updating this site - Richard is off trying to arrange some form of travel so we can visit the Regal Mausoleum of Mauretania. It's only 12km away but our friend Aniour has said it is too dangerous to cycle there.

Algeria seems quite advanced in terms to recycling and environmental matters as we've already mentioned. The radio has been discussing the fact that the black plastic bags that we found so widely used in Morocco are in fact poisonous - a problem as they are widely used for fruit and vegetables. The black bags are cheaper to produce - we assume because white plastic bags most under go a further level of extraction of the dangerous ingredient. Black plastic bags will now be banned in Algeria from 2006.

Tuesday, 12th April 2005  Tipasa, Algeria
For once we were actually going to be ready for our military escort on time. Even despite being invited for breakfast by our friends on the course here we would have been ready. As we were preparing to start bring the bikes and panniers to the front there was a knock on the door. We smiled at each other - it was 9:10. We had arranged 10am with the guard. But as they had been between ½ and 2½ hours early every morning this was about the norm. But no - it wasn't our guard. Anouar stood with a big grin. We were delighted to see him and spent the next 2 hours chatting away. But again the bad and the good. Despite only being 60km from Alger we were not to leave but to stay in Tipasa until Saturday when we could go to Alger as that would give Anouar more time to arrange our reception in Alger. Stani was not delighted to say the least. The other thing she found strange was the fact that the military guard didn't turn up that day. Richard went off with Anouar to chat with various important people and came back a couple of hours - we were invited for lunch by some ministers. To be honest this was the worst meal yet that Stani had had in Africa and she was surprised that it was served to all these important functionaries. After lunch Anoiar and Richard went to chat to more people - Stani has no idea who and is not sure Richard is either.

Wednesday, 6th April 2005  Oran, Algeria
Oran must have the nicest people in the world. Absolutely everybody we have met here has been so incredibly kind to us that we are completely bowled over.

We arrived early in the morning and unlike our arrival in Morocco there were no hustlers to greet us. On the ferry several people had warned us to be careful in Algeria and despite what appeared to be very aggressive behaviour (so it seemed to us with loud voice and animated hand gestures) one man came over and broke into a big smile and offered us each a mint.
As the ferry door opened we got our first glimpse of Oran. Located on the top of the cliffside it was gorgeous. We had no problems going through customs - merely that one person would wave us on and then another would call us back again. We noticed that the customs officers were giving all the cars a through check and we ourselves were questioned several times as to whether we were importing anything. One officer decided to give us a check over but while Stani resigned herself to the fact that we would have to empty all our panniers he was only interested in the waterproof map holder on top of her handlebar bag. Very interested. Despite assuring him it was just paper work - maps etc he wanted to see every scrap of paper it contained. On reflection we think he was seriously interested in seeing the maps as opposed to actually checking that there was something being smuggled in!
Finally after waiting a while, being given a customs nothing declared form we were let go - well as far as the locked gate where we waited for half an hour before it was opened. But everyone greeted us with a cheerful Bonjour and genuine interest as to what we were doing. Finally the gates were opened and we were let free - as far as the next police booth where we had to provide details of our exact route day by day where we were going. As we hadn't decided this ourselves it was a bit of a challenge!
We climbed the cliff side road to Oran - Stani pulled over half way up to take a couple of photos. While Richard hissed warnings to be careful. A car pulled over and a man jumped out to wish Richard "Bon Courage". This summed up the rest of the day. As we continued on the road, cars gave us encouraging honks, people waved, cheered and shouted encouragements to us. We had big smiles on our faces by the time we reached the central square. They soon vanished. We had a major problem. It was morning. Richard hadn't had his morning coffee. We had no Algerian money. After a hour of trolling around trying to find an ATM we had only found a couple of ATM's but both were out of service. Inside the banks we were assured that there were no ATM's in the city. The Tourist Office advised us to go to the Bank of Algeria as they gave the best rate. It was a very impressive building and Stani was completely charmed by the graciousness of the staff there. She was also surprised that there was no commission as we had been warned in Alicante that the banks in Algeria charged exorbitant commission charges.

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