Algeria – Oran, shrouded in mystery!
Silver Cloud is the first cruise ship permitted to visit Algeria after a four-year shutdown.
At lunchtime today, we sail into Oran, Algeria’s second city to a water cannon welcome. An imposing Santa Cruz Fort 400 m up on a mountain top guarding the harbour, evokes a sense of mystery. The excitement on board is palpable. Then we are drawn to our balconies to listen to the band playing rhythmic Arab music.
We are in Algeria! We are in Africa.
And we go back to our lunch by the pool until it’s time to disembark and discover for ourselves. We’ll, sort of!
As we venture ashore, smiling young Algerians stand at the foot of the gangway bedecking each of us with a colourful Algerian sash.
The band of men in blue turbans play Arabian music with frantic drumming, clapping, singing and dancing.
Officials with epaulettes and white gloves stand around with a veiled sense of pride, and surveillance.
Our transport with hazard lights flashing is escorted by motor-cycle police, civilian brigade, special forces and plain clothes – with blue flashing lights and sirens to ensure ease of passage for our coaches to proceed without stops through heavy traffic.
Pedestrians and vehicles are halted in every direction! It’s an extraordinary military-style operation, just for us! We proceed up the incredibly steep cliff road to Santa Cruz fort and church … steep, hot and crowded. My ankles knees and glutes carry me well, but I nearly expire in the heat with so little shade and nowhere to sit.
Just below the fort we visit a Catholic sanctuary with a statue of Our Lady overlooking the harbour with our ship docked way below.