Thursday, June 05, 2014


 No, no, I am NOT in Algeria, at least not yet. I have just arrived in Sweden to spend three weeks. But there are finally some exciting developments on that  aborted Algerian trip:
Having been very excited about my planned Algerian visit at Easter time I had made all sorts of research. I had watched all the Algerian films I could lay my hands on and had become quite an expert on Algerian modern history. There was however one tiny bit of research I had omitted to do : did I need a visa?
I did.
Having been refused entry into Algeria for a lack of this item and unceremoniously bundled on to the first plan to London on my way from Mali to Europe in April, I then attempted to obtain the missing visa at the Algerian Consulate in London so that I would finally be able to make the planned visit to my friend Carin Wall, the Swedish ambassador to Algeria on my way back. This was not to be. 
The London consulate staff were sticklers for rules and extremely unpleasant. I was refused a visa because according to the regulations I should apply for a visa in my country of residence, i.e. in my case Mali. Not even a letter to the Consul from Carin made any difference, in fact they seemed to positively relish the idea that they were not giving any preferential treatment. This nearly caused a diplomatic incident and Carin was understandably irate.
The new plan was that I should apply for my visa in Stockholm at the Algerian Embassy. Now, this proved an inspired idea: diplomatic letters winged their way through the ether to prepare the way and lo and behold: I arrived at the embassy this morning.  I was immediately whisked into the office of the Consul where I was given coffee and cakes and treated to a little chat about the loveliness of Algeria while my visa was being prepared!  I am now in possession of a three months multi entry visa given on the spot.  Alhamdilullah! I had been steeling myself for an uncomfortable  30 hour wait at the airport of Algiers on my way back to Mali...
But meanwhile the situation 'at home' in Mali is nothing to shout hurrah about. We had a longstanding booking at the end of June with an Italian Tour operator. The hotel was going to be more or less full. We had prepared for this and had done an overhaul of the air conditioners etc. But a few days ago the booking was cancelled. No reason was given, but it is of course because of the recent fighting and increased instability in Mali. The Italians had been the last to give up Mali as a tourist destination and they were also the first to come back gradually over the last year: they are cheerful and hardy travellers and they have never  cared very much about what the government may be saying as far as travel warnings go...but this time they pulled out. What will the future hold now for Hotel Djenn√© Djenno? Is there a future or must we give up now? Difficult decisions will have to  be made soon...


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Positively Kafkaesque, but at least with a happy ending! 30 hours waiting time in an airport is pretty tough--a lot of "quality" reading time, maybe? In any event, I look forward to missives from your travels.

1:46 PM  
Blogger mary said...

seems that we will not see you here this year but pleased that the Algerian embassy somewhere was co-operative about your planned visit. Am sure that you will have happy times in Sweden and then hopefully in Algeria too. As for the hotel tread slowly - the last year has had many highlights and you must remain optimistic about what could happen next.

8:22 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Dear Mary,
I am sorry that we will not see each other AGAIN this year! I have hurt my knee now and doing as little moving about as possible until it heals. But I am still looking forward to seeing you again one day!
And Susan,
indeed, very glad I don't have to sleep at the airport in Algiers!Will hopefully bring cheerful reports of Mali once back...

1:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

nice to see you there.

7:20 AM  

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