For all my bitching on about the things that drive me mad about Algeria, its beauty even its crazy wrongness takes me into a blace in my head that I hear no breath, spins me into a stillness that focuses me into it.
Turning into countryside that ripples up red and then sweet soft flowers blue and on itno mountains and there are crisp apples to buy on the roadside and around to the curved beach and it is the sea. that blue beauty that I call my own each summer.
Algeria means sitting outside our beachhouse late nights, kids in bed, just a cliffs dive steps down to the water crashing out and over our own rocky port inhabited by hermit crabs and purpleblack sea urchins, the sky is loaded with stars and we sip fresh mint tea, mint I,ve never smelled in the the US, grown in volcanic soil, watered from the cold springs that break out of the mountian so sweet and fresh I drink it straight away.
The mint has that cool to it. it has the sweetness of minerals that sparkly in the shodowless mediteranean sky. I drink it slow and sugary and take in the stars dizzy constellations.
A woman is wrapped in thick wool, but colors pink and green I still see. She is carrying a jug on her head. In the middle of the road she walks. Her hair is covered. Her face is open to the world.
It is just an afternoon prayer on a sunny July day but after it is finished men pour from the mosque in waves after waves. These are not the disused Catholic tombs of Europe.
The mosque's steps stretch up tall and white. I wait across the street just beside the shadows of bushes that burst pink and bees all year and climb and climb the old garden walls.
White strips of fat from the Eid sheep hang on the end of the clothes line for months to dry in the sun until a baby is born into the family or a little boy is circumsized or just because you have a craving ofr heavy bercousus globes of pasta set in thick spicy broth with chickpeas and meatballs and flavored with this dried fat.
God, how I craved it after my second baby was born.
In the evenings, in ORan a port city that sits above the water and port that hosted the first pirates of the world, families and singles on the prowl and groups of girls linking arms walk Front Mer BLvd to catch the breeze and show off and eat ice cream.
This only happens in summer and only at night, but it goes on all night and every night. The small parks with playgrounds that are new to Oran, there having never been not for years and years playgrounds in the city, have a schedual reverse of the playgrounds my kids go to in NYC. People dont go there until the sun goes down and through the summer all summer long I hear the squeaky swings and kids' screams at 1,2 AM.
It's too hot in the sun with no shade to speak of. Sitting in hijab scarf just doesn't seem all that fun around about 12 noon dead heat. I get it.
Kids' filthy flip_flops scaling others' garden walls to forage for figs. But fig trees grow everywhere here and in summer they burst purple spit and flies full out if they aren't picked on time. Don't doubt me. I have seen it so.
(I blame internet cafe's crazy keyboard on any and all errors, punctuation or otherwise contained above.)