As a complete contrast, I was invited to go to Algiers to discuss a possible documentary production. While there, the Ministry of Information asked me to go south to see the Saharoui people.
I boarded a passenger jet at Algiers Airport and flew 1,500 miles south to Tindhouf. Tindhouf was the southernmost outpost of the French Foreign Legion. Once there, I was driven further into the Sahara.
I was to spend a few days living at the headquarters of the Polisario who were the military arm of the Saharoui people who had been dispossessed of their homes in Western Sahara by the Moroccans.
They lived a fairly frugal existence, depending mostly on the Algerian Government to sustain them.
I ate their food and felt uneasy about it, as if I was depriving someone of their rations.
Most of the refugees were housed in tented cities which were placed at various sites in the Desert.
At one that I visited, they had made use of a large waterhole that provided the nearby “city” with its water . The water was also used to irrigate a small area that had been recovered from the desert. There they were growing a variety of vegetables, but, it seemed to me, they could not produce enough to feed all of their people.
The Germans has built a chicken and egg plant. It was state of the art and totally air conditioned.
What a contrast to the abundance of food in Europe.
Before my departure from Algiers, I was presented with a case of Algerian Red Wine.
It was top class and my family and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are stories of Algerians blending their wines to produce an inferior product. I saw no evidence of that and I think it might be a story put about by their competitors in the wine world.
Further reading: The Saharaoui 1989 – Terry’s story on visiting the Saharaoui people in Tindhouf.
Next chapter: Chapter 105: Dinner at The House of Commons