Romans are a Culture of Soft Daddies

Cerez, Belimour, Algeria

This story is inspired by the history of the castle that lies in the vicinity of the city of Belmour, which was called Thamascani during the Roman Empire.

May God bless you, Sidi Okba, you magical city. The daughter of the Romans sings and dances to the beat of the morning breeze rustling the grass in the fields. She knows her wishes are her father’s commands. What is it this beauty will want next, the oil from the olive trees that grow in this neck of the woods or the fish of the sea? Rejoice, you lucky bastard, for you can have it all. Sleep, Sidi Okba, and don’t worry, because we will watch over the land handed down to us and cultivate it with the seed of our dreams.

The castles of the area have weathered all sorts of calamities in the past and have withstood the passage of time with dignity, the kind maintained over generations by those who inhabit these parts. Bella is smitten with the taste of their ...Read more

A Whiff of Farewell in the Air

Tablat, Algeria

You are headed toward the road flanked by trees. Your heart aches as you remember.

The sun slants across the mountains. You watch the roaring waterfall tumble down the cliff. A sudden breeze rustles the grass. You are not lyrical about what the bucolic setting bodes for the future. The landscape is blanketed in snow. The almond trees are in bloom.

Tablat’s spirit endears the town to everyone who has been lucky enough to traverse its streets. They come like migrating birds, which despite having had to circle around the world several times dare not cover the safe distances the different cultural worlds comprising our globe keep with one another.

On the day of your date, the air smells so sweet that it cloys your senses. We may be meant to be, you think, secretly wishing destiny will allow you to play a part in your own story. You step out the door and Tablat’s sparkling everyday nature unfolds before you. You bang the door closed behind you, careful not to slam it on your heart, which clings to the frame. You stride confidently ...Read more

The Kid and the Fortress

Bordj El Kiffan Algeria

Ahmed is a very bright and inquisitive six-year-old boy who lives in a city called Bordj El Kiffan—shortened as Bordj—which has amazing sand beaches and a formidable fortress.

The old fortress was built beside the sea centuries ago, during the Ottoman Empire. It was erected by soldiers and was once guarded by sentries who would squat down beside the majestic cannons that still crown the fortress today. Their snouts stick out of the bastion’s crenelated walls in order to deter outsiders from approaching.

In truth, the fortress looks snotty, standing there all high and mighty against the celestial blue backdrop that merges with the marine one. However, it probably deserves to feel smug after having gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect the burghers who hid behind its walls back in the day. At that time, the fortress deterred the enemy ships that had crossed the seas in hopes of getting a shot at desecrating the jewels ashore from approaching any further. It still stands to this day—well, “stand” is perhaps not the most ...Read more

Blue Litham

Hoggar Mountains, Algeria

His bleary eyes cast a plaintive glance at the rearview mirror. They stood out from the sea of blue folds belonging to the litham he wore around his head. For a second, it was as if nothing else mattered in the entire world but for what was going on inside those eyes, which reproduced the sky. We were both sitting close to the front in order to show the driver the appropriate turn for the road that led to the Hoggar Mountains.

Time was already dragging, and our destination still lay a considerable distance ahead, at the end of the mostly unpaved track that twisted before us like a frazzled cord clumsily trying to encompass the landscape. Here in the boonies, there was sand as far as the eye could see. I zoomed in on the reflection of Azooz’s veiled face in the mirror in a botched attempt to explore the mystery that shrouded his mien. My attempt had been doomed to fail from the start, but I had to confirm my suspicions before I could ...Read more

Thieves Rise at Nightfall, Isn’t That What They Say?

Ain El Kebira, Algerian countryside

I was folding clothes when a piece of paper came flying through the window and fell at my feet. As I picked it up, I saw it had something written on it. This immediately aroused my curiosity. The paper read, “Behind the forest, where the failed attempt to scrape the sky.”

I would have thrown it away, but then I saw a note on the side that caught my attention.

“Luke 9:11.”

I looked the verse up on the Internet: “But the crowds learned about it and followed him.”

My findings got me all keyed up at the thought of having chanced upon a treasure map. I had planned to spend the next day with my friend not doing much of anything but decided last minute to urge her to embark on an adventure with me.

“Hi! How are you, Tina? How have you been?” she greeted me over the phone.

“Good, thanks! Emma, I called to tell you about something strange that just happened to me.” For a second I balked at revealing my secret.

“Don’t hold back. ...Read more

In Love with the African Coastline

Le parc archéologique de Tipaza

I am from Tipaza, born and bred, and can attest to the fact that it’s a very unique city. It is steeped in history and attracts many tourists because of the Roman ruins that can be found everywhere. Most of its warm-hearted and good-natured citizens live a simple but honorable life working in the fields. It is a safe city for outsiders to boot.

Every year, I invite a friend of mine to spend summer vacation in my city with me and my family. A very dear friend of mine came to visit me this year. His name is Omar alHalbi, and he is a Syrian athlete whom I met at the Grand Cycling Tour of Algeria some years ago. When I invited him, he thanked me warmly for the opportunity I was offering to learn more about Tipaza, its surrounding flora and fauna, and its people, because as he told me, he had fallen in love with ...Read more

Faint Breeze, Shattering Revelation

Port of Tipasa, Algeria

I haven’t heard from you for a whole month. I fear you might never come back to me again. Your phone is off, and you are not answering my messages. Even though it is still way too early and I risk waking my mother up, I call her on the phone to ask whether she has information on your whereabouts. She accuses me of being a crazy fool and beseeches me to come to my senses and return to her. As I open my notebook in hopes of finding a trace of you, the smell of your perfume hits me. I inhale deeply and try to hold on to it for as long as I can, for it may very well be the only thing you have left behind. Not knowing what has happened to you is driving me nuts. In order to see your face again, I open the photo album and look through the pictures I once took of you. It’s ...Read more

Sidi M’Cid Bridge

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Like the bridge, her life was held in abeyance pending a reversal of the past. He would have tried to comfort her by hugging her, but she would have pushed him away. He wanted to keep his distance. It started raining as tears began to pour down her cheeks. It was as if the sky had agreed to assist her in hiding her sorrow. She didn’t mind the rain splashing on her lunar face. She felt in harmony with the elements. Everyone else started running to take shelter, but she stayed where she was sitting and faced the rain. God was by her side. Half an hour later, the storm abated and a rainbow graced the sky. At long last, Constantine’s thirst had been slaked. The city seemed content. Sukina, however, could not find it in herself to wake up to her reality and move on with her life. It didn’t help matters that she preferred to keep to herself, for this reticence of hers had everyone’s imaginations running riot. Some assumed she was a ...Read more

Insane Jealousy

Ouargla, Algeria

She didn’t love him. Strictly speaking, she worshipped him and the mere thought of losing him tore her up inside. One day he had to go on a trip for work. The prospect of him leaving her side harrowed her. She would not be able to breathe the same air he breathed or smell the distinct charm he oozed in order to raise her spirits.

He would be absent for a whole week—each of the seven days would feel like seven years, for they had not spent a single day apart since they had gotten married three months ago. God had wanted them to find their way to each other’s hearts while in their fourth year of college. They had fallen madly in love the moment they had set eyes on each other. They had only seen the other’s good qualities and had instantly become inseparable.

During the day, she stayed at home missing him, waiting with bated breath for his return and getting things set to meet his every need as soon as he walked in the front door. Thus he could ...Read more

Summer Slumber

Beni Hammad Fort, Maadid, Algeria

I had spent the whole night walking on my own and was starting to feel pretty desperate to, for lack of a better alternative, spy a murky light shimmering on the horizon. I had been trying hard to ignore the foul stench of my bleak surroundings. After all, I had to reach my destination no matter how long or unpalatable the journey turned out to be. As I continued plodding forward, my mind set sail for where my fondest memories had taken place.

Suddenly, a gruff voice asked me about my love. Fear gripped me, but I tried to conceal it as I offered my answer.

“She belongs to my past, a past I wish I could leave behind. The notion that many of the stars we see gleaming in the sky are actually just mirages has always transfixed me. It is scary to think that we make wishes upon carcasses of light. The wilderness of velvet forests opens up unrivaled opportunities to stage ambushes on the saps of ...Read more