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Day 94: Algiers

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Michael Palin - SaharaHis reply is terse and to the point.

'You're a public figure. You're a guest of the Algerian government. And frankly, if I lose you, I lose my job.'

Pure James Bond.

My immediate security team, four lean young men in suits with two-way radios, are affable and approachable. I learn from them that the French for walkie-talkie is talkie-walkie. That cheers me up a bit.

I'm also reunited with Said Chitour, who takes me first to the Villa Suzini, a handsome Moorish house from whose roof there is a fine panorama of the city, laid out across wide, sometimes steep slopes curving round a generous bay. The French called it Alger La Blanche, and it is still a brilliantly white city, laid out like Lyon or Marseille, with tiers of imposing terraces, breaking down into the less regular outlines of the old town, the casbah, on the western arm of the bay.

To the east, the skyline is dominated by a towering monument of 300-foot palm leaves, built of reinforced concrete, and dedicated to the martyrs of the revolution. Martyrs are very important to the Algerians, though there have been so many claimed by different sides that the word has become almost meaningless.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 94
  • Country/sea: Algeria
  • Place: Algiers
  • Book page no: 243

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