Rue de la Bastille

La rue de la Bastille c’est la rue la plus sale d’Oran. La plaie. Le marché informel le plus ancien.  

The Rue de la Bastille is the filthiest street in Oran. An open wound. The oldest street market.

-Le Matin d’Algérie – September 2012

A lost child was wailing for its mother – a thin thread of sound against a background of the shouts of the shopkeepers advertising their wares to passing customers. They, in turn, would stop and embark upon the enjoyable process of haggling for the best possible prices. Women, shrouded in their haiks, were juggling their straw baskets full of vegetables and packets of sugar or pulses, while still trying to preserve their modesty by pulling part of their sheet-like covering over their faces. Continue reading



One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

-Virginia Woolf

On my return to Algeria, after five lonely months spent in Britain, we celebrated our reunion by dining out that same evening at one of Oran’s many restaurants. I was in a state of euphoric relief, almost dizzy with it. Although only a few hours had passed since I had set foot back in Algeria, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Continue reading

The Good-Time Girl

It seems that the people of Oran are like that friend of Flaubert who, on the point of death, casting a last glance at the irreplaceable earth, exclaimed: “Close the window, it’s too beautiful.”
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

One of Algeria’s paradoxes is that it is both a relatively new nation and an ancient land, with a history stretching back to pre-biblical times. When we were living there, I must confess that we were so caught up in the difficulties of day-to-day living, we were blind to the wealth of history just under our feet and around every corner. We had Roman ruins just down the street – a few hundred yards from our front door. I don’t think we ever visited them during all the time we were there. Continue reading

The White Lady

 “The bay is there, majestic, bathed in a dazzling light. The white City clings to the mountain slope that seems to float on a vast carpet of blue marble….

Akram Belkaid – Return to Algeria



Algiers. Photo by Karen Rose.

Trembling, I stood there at the top of the plane stairs, shading my eyes and squinting in the bright sunshine. When the aircraft door had been opened a few moments before, the warm air had hit me like a blast from a hairdryer, blowing dust into my eyes and whipping my long hair into tangles across my face. My mouth felt dry and my stomach tight with apprehension as I followed the other passengers across the tarmac to the airport building. Continue reading