Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What a small world we live in

Our 'spot' on La Plage Rouge
One of Ireland’s biggest exports has always been its people, and it has often been said that you could lift up a rock anywhere in the world and find an Irish person.  Nowadays you’re more than likely to find an Algerian with them.  Through forums and Facebook groups geared primarily for women with connections to Algeria, and also through meeting foreign women living in Algeria I am amazed at all the corners of the globe to which Algerians have travelled.   From Iceland to Brazil, Australia to USA, Canada to Malaysia, Scandinavia, Russia, Europe and other parts of Africa, Algerians have gone and brought back the best kind of memento of their travels…...a foreign wife.

The world shrinks even further when you actually live in Algeria, where everyone seems to know everyone else simply because… they do!  And you cannot get away from them, because no matter where you go…someone knows who you are.  If you stand out like a foreigner then you have no hope of anonymity and there’s no point in getting high blood pressure trying to acquire it. 

In 2009 we travelled to Jijel, to a small out of the way place named Ziama.  It is a journey of about 6 hours (although it took us 11… but we will NOT go into that fiasco of detours, getting lost and following someone who thought he was the next Shumaker), so you would think it safe to say that we were truly getting away from it all.. and from anyone who knew us.  We discovered this beautiful un-spoilt beach that could only be reached through a winding path down the side of a mountain (probably the reason why it was un-spoilt).  Going down was no problem but after a morning of swimming and drying off in the sun, and with that dozy, sleepy, after-a-day-at-the-beach feeling, facing in to that steep climb back up was no joke.  I always had to make a couple of stops on the way up to catch my breath, while the magnificent views promptly took it again, and I have quite a lot of photos of the view from those vantage points.
I did say...puff, puff, that it was...puff, puff a STEEP climb puff, puff puff!
One day while my daughter, Sarah and I were sitting in our fisherman’s tent watching the rest of the family in the sea, and more specifically my eldest son who was 17 at the time, building a sandcastle (not much else to do once you had swam to your heart’s content).  We watched as he lay on his stomach taking a picture of his masterpiece and saw in the distance a man and his family approaching to our quiet corner of the beach.  As he got closer and closer we fully expected him to circle around my son and his sandcastle but no…. he stopped and appeared to be saying that he was going to put his parasol up in the small area between my son and his work of art.  While my daughter and I discussed the fact that we thought we had seen everything there was to be seen in Algerian behavior, but this one really took the biscuit, I was flabbergasted and full of pride in equal measures when my son stood up and shook the man’s hand.  What a wonderful, patient, mannerly, respectful boy I had brought up (while I wondered inwardly was he actually my son at all)! Afterwards he told us the man was… his Maths teacher!  He was only joking with him and he moved on further down the beach with his family. Imagine going away for a summer holiday only to meet up with your Maths teacher on the beach!  After that we became totally blasĂ© when we bumped into members of the family that ran our nearest grocer’s shop, some friends of my husband and my son among a group of boy scouts and various other people from our hometown. 

And don’t think for a minute that you can get away from them all when you travel abroad, because I can’t count the number of ‘brothers’ my husband has bumped into in airports and on ferries, and even my quiet hometown in Ireland.  You marry an Algerian… you end up connected in some way to the whole flaming lot of them.
My son's sandfort 'masterpiece'

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