|Rue d'Isly, downtown Algiers, Feb. 2013|
Since my first visit last spring, I have spent nearly six months in total here. Even so, I cannot pretend that Algiers—much less the country as a whole—is a place I know well. Geographically, Algeria is the largest country in Africa and the tenth largest in the world, with an intricate mesh of identities and dizzyingly complex history. Suffice it to say I have much to explore and much to learn. Recognizing how little most outsiders—even fellow enthusiasts of the region and its cultures—know about Algeria, I look forward to sharing observations along the way.
I have arrived in Algeria during a fascinating political moment. In the coming months, this characteristically conservative country may well see an unusual degree of change, given the president's failing health, an ongoing inter-generational struggle within the political elite, grave economic and social problems at home, and the currents of change still rocking the region. While I will be following political developments closely, out of concern for professional neutrality I will do my best to refrain from discussing politics in this space as often as I might otherwise like to.
Daily life here in Algiers presents many obstacles that were absent back in DC, but returning to North Africa has its perks—including proximity to a lot of great destinations. At the same time that I have made this transition to Algeria, my lady friend has taken a new job in central Africa. We are already planning some exciting trips together, so expect more updates here in the coming months on both Algeria and other destinations in the region.