Americans in Algeria Speaking Arabic

Saturday, January 27, 2018 | Algiers, Algeria

Interviewing July Blalack at Allaqta's studio in Algiers.
One of the perks and peculiarities of being one of just a handful of Americans here in Algeria is that I get a lot of interesting cold calls from the few American tourists who pass through. Given how little is written on Algeria in English, it makes sense; many English speakers who Google the country land here at my blog sooner or later.

Last summer there were Jeff and Steve, a pair of adventurous guys from Minnesota who had stumbled upon ultra-cheap roundtrip Minneapolis-Algiers tickets and bought them before doing any research. (After they reached out to ask, more or less, "Did we just make a crazy mistake?" I reassured them that they hadn't, and helped them map out an exhilarating 10-day itinerary. We met for lunch on their last day in Algiers. It was great fun all around.)

Not long after, Daniel, an LA-based friend-of-a-friend, got in touch about visiting the Sahraoui refugee camps in Tindouf. I gave him some contacts and advice on logistics, and he ended up taking me with him on his trip! (More on that to come very soon. Update: Read now: "In Tindouf Refugee Camps, Resignation and Frustration Do Battle")

For Sale: "Algeria 2018" Wall Calendars

Thursday, January 18, 2018 | Algiers, Algeria

With all my travels and projects in 2017 (ahem, not to mention my day job), free time was at a premium last year. Among other things, it was a challenge to piece together enough hours to prepare my annual Algeria photo calendar. Hoping to gain a little time, I called on a friend's communication agency here in Algiers to help with production... and let's just say it didn't pan out as planned.

But the show must go on! So I have printed an extremely limited run of Algeria 2018 calendars, complete with 12 of my film photos taken across the country and brief accompanying texts. They will be on sale starting from this Saturday, January 20, at two locations in Algiers:
International sales will unfortunately not be available this year. However, I will be holding a free global giveaway via Instagram in the coming days. Follow me at @ibnibnbattuta to participate!

Looking Back on 2017, and Ahead to 2018

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Well, 2017 sure flew by.

Between all my work here in Algiers and travels near and far, it was a blur of a year.

Early in the year, Nina and I partied with friends in Beirut, celebrated a friend's wedding in Rome, hiked Cinque Terre, and explored Paris. Within Algeria, I visited Biskra and El Oued for the first time and returned several times to Oran, among other destinations.

Over the summer, I finally made my first visit to Egypt—and enjoyed it so much that I convinced Nina to return for the year-end holidays. (Now that I've developed my film, expect many photos and stories to follow shortly!)

I also made several trips to the US, including (most exciting of all) the East Coast book tour with Algerian independence hero Zohra Drif and the Just World Books team to promote Inside the Battle of Algiers, my English translation of Mme Drif's memoir, released worldwide in September. While my translation didn't make the