North Africa Adventure
For my birthday last year, I spent a month travelling across Southern Africa and I knew I’d be spending my birthday this year in Africa. While Ebola and sectional violence put a spanner in the wheel of my original plan for this year, I’m just as excited to be spending two weeks in North Africa – Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. I am on a MENA (Middle East & North Africa) trail having been to The UAE, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey* and Malta* earlier this year.
Egypt and Tunisia are popular holiday destinations for Europeans so there are tons of information and tourist infrastructures available. Algeria, on the other hand, is somewhat off the beaten track and I think I am most excited to visit as it has such a bad rep in my family (long story, my uncle lived there through their civil war).
I had to apply for a visa to Algeria and while the process was very quick, took 5 minutes to drop off application and 5 working days to pick up my passport, and a tad expensive (£85) I just got the general sense that they don’t get a lot of tourists and don’t care to get them.
Embassy Staff: How do you know where Algeria is?
Me: *stares at passport and back to him*
ES: Why do you want to go to Algeria? We don’t advertise for tourism so how do you know to go there?
Me: So why don’t you advertise for tourists?
ES: Well, it is the job of the government, not the embassy but generally we feel like tourism has done more harm than good in North Africa.
Me: How exactly….. never mind, I understand
I wasn’t about to blow my chance of getting the visa so I stopped and gave him a reassuring smile. I have been paying attention to news of over-tourism and locals being less than willing to welcome tourists because they eventually get priced out of their homes and cities. Restaurants and bar jack up their prices knowing tourists would pay, landlords put their flats on Airbnb instead of long-term rentals to locals. It’s much more complicated than that but it's been interesting watching the shift from “Visit Our Country” to “Actually, Chill”.
Back to my trip, with the exception of the 5 day Nile river cruise from Luxor to Aswan, I am pretty flexible with my days and will do a lot of eating, chilling and doing my best to remember all the French I studied at school.
I can’t wait!
*depends on whose definition