I am in Algiers now after nearly two weeks of luxury. I attended my first travel media tour in Jordan and while bus tours and big groups are not the way I prefer to travel, I could get used to five star hotels and free meals in posh restaurants. The tour brought us all over Jordan, from resorts on the Dead Sea, to camping in the desert, to an afternoon cruise on the Red Sea. The trip will yield a couple of new stories and gave me the opportunity to meet some interesting travel writers and photographers.
Algiers is a bit of a shock after all that pampering. It is a beautiful city, sloping towards the Mediterranean with its blocks of white apartments. The place has a marvelous cafe culture, and I have spent much of the last two days drinking two inch shots of espresso among men who smoke and wear suit jackets. Outside Cafe el Istiklal - Independance Cafe - illegal moneychangers wave wads of dinars and spit on the pavement. They seem to be the only ones who recognize me for a foreigner. The Arabic haircut I got in Amman seems to have everyone else fooled. My lousy French, however, fools no one.
Tomorrow night I will fly south to the refugee camps near Tindouf. My flight arrives there at one in the morning. Hopefully there will be someone waiting for me.
(Right now I can hear the music coming from the headphones of the man next to me in the Internet cafe. It is Lady in Red by Chris DeBurgh. I am having flashbacks of Iran.)