April 6, 2011

A Place Called Zeralda

Zeralda is on the northern tip of Algiers, along the Mediterranean coast.

We lived in the tourist center about 2 km from the town of Zeralda, Algiers. It was a place where Americans and Canadians working overseas lived with their families . My dad worked for Westburne International Drilling. We were foreigners but we quickly adapted, but never able to drink the water . Our water was always bottled in what was known as Saïda. Our favorite soda was Fanta .

The town was developed around tourists, but it remains an agricultural area. There are two hotels in that area now but I only remember Les Sable D'hors (golden sands). We were one of the first to use its facilities and be featured in a tourist magazine. A photographer got our permission to take pictures of us swimming in the pool. Zeralda has undoubtedly changed a lot and it would NOT be recognizable today . I see pictures of even a waterslide where the sand dunes use to be! check out the pic below! I couldn't believe it but I was very happy to find this map! Our house was the biggest villa on the corner as soon as you came through the gates . ya it has totally changed. Read more about Our Villa 

"I kid you not "
According to certain historians, the name, Zeralda, came about when a man of worship called Mohamed Zeradli discovered Zeralda in 1844. We lived there for 2 years , then moved to Club des Pins and then Moretti .
club des pins
We had a maid; her name was Zorah. She was my moms favorite because she did her job well and she could be trusted from stealing unlike our first maid who was fired. I liked Zorah, even though she was an elderly lady she was very generous and funny . Her daughter, Fisah, made us lunch everyday when we went to school in Bou-Ismail. We walked to her house for lunch. She ate coffee beans; she called them cacao. We always enjoyed our lunch because it was so good , especially Chorba. Chorba (pronounced Shorba) is an Arabic word meaning soup but the recipe varies from country to country. Try Algerian Chorba. We never liked lamb but you can use other meats. We also ate Shakshuka

Bou Ismail photos by Guitahmed
I have fond memories of Zeralda; living so close to the mediterranean , the sound of the sea crashing to shore , the beautiful sunsets, good ice cream, noisy crickets at night always stopped silent right after the sunset as if respecting our sleep. I miss the croaking sound of frogs and small lizards and beetles leaving behind their tracks in the sand . But all this would have been so useful if only my mother would have homeschooled us ! *zut alors!* translated "shucks". It would have been so interesting to learn about all the creatures around us *sigh*

I remember learning about the jellyfish in biology. There were a lot of jellyfish in the sea but I don't remember being stung at all just sea weed stinging . It was this type of jellyfish called vellella ; that we usually saw and they looked like little blue boats washed ashore . This would have been a good V word btw .

By-the-wind sailors 
We had a small lizard we called Waldo in club des pins. It never bothered anyone and was actually pretty cute ; it ate daddy long legged spiders. We spent a lot of time playing in the sand dunes near our house in Zeralda . It was in that environment where we could have studied frogs and lizards and beetles and bloodsuckers because there was a swamp that ran out into the sea. Obviously that is where the croaking noises came from but unfortunately it has all been built upon.

It didn't take us long to know how to swim before we were swimming like fish . The only lesson I ever had , was getting thrown into the deep end of the pool with one or two buoys on my waist . I swallowed a lot of water but I swam so hard that I was a natural dog paddler without realizing I was treading water . That is how I learnt how to swim.

If you ever wanted to know where my sister and I were , we were always at the beach or gone swimming at the pool . We lived in our bathing suits all summer long. The worst part about the beach was getting sand in our bathing suit. Because we didn't have an outdoor shower , we found it was really easy to get the sand off by using the garden hose so as to NOT track sand in the house. It was so much fun being a kid . We always had a good nights sleep after being out in the sunshine all day We were fairly tanned like the Arabs too.

I remember the front sidewalk of our house was made of very sharp gravel and tar and it was always a good idea to wear our thongs ; flip-flops, sandals , jeesh. However, we built callouses on our feet by walking barefoot. In the hot summer months, the sand on the beach was so hot , we had to make a mad dash towards the water so our feet wouldn't burn.

Sidi Ferruch- photos by guitahmed
One weekend I remember my dad and I went for a long walk along the beach to Sidi Ferruch . It took about an hour or two to walk from our place . He liked to pick seashells and it would have not taken so long if he didn't walk so slow, besides, there weren't many seashells around only shiny rocks and lots of seaweed. I would love to go back there someday. I think Zeralda is a wonderful place to live.

Sidi Ferruch is a coastal town in Algiers . It is located within the territory of the municipality of Staouéli, on a presque-isle on the Mediterranean Sea very close to Zeralda.

Sidi Ferruch was the landing spot where the French established their beachhead for the Invasion of Algiers in 1830. A number of ships of the French Navy were subsequently named Sidi Ferruch in honour of the event.
-from wikipedia

If I could go back there I would ride a horse on the beach and rent some paddleboats and go snorkling. My oldest brother did this with his girlfriend .There was a disco at night, the Dishra, which was a lot of fun for him I'm sure. Sometimes there was a movie playing in the cinema .We went to see "A Man Called Horse". It was an outdoor theater. In a tent called La Khaima, belly dancers performed. Zeralda also had horse stables . That was pretty fun .

I remember walking to the town of Zeralda once. My sister made us walk to church :( She didn't like our babysitter and it was just her excuse to get out of the house. Our babysitter was very boring but she didn't bother us . She was a very pretty finnish lady who stayed with us while my parents went to Switzerland for my oldest brother and sisters graduation.

A Caleche is basically a horse and buggy ride. They weren't always available, but certainly a treat when we got to ride into town on a Caleche . I have so many wonderful memories of Zeralda but this post is long enough and you will probably end up doing this zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Le Chenoua - photos by guitahmed

Algiers is also the place where the famous Poet Albert Camus lived. The french schools always made us memorize poems in school and we had to recite it in front of the class . It was part of our grade assignment. One of them was Le Chenoua by Albert Camus .We actually could see it from Zeralda. I could probably recite the first sentences off by heart in french but here is the first sentences translated to English:
I wanted to review the Chenoua, this heavy, solid mountain, cut from a single block, along the Bay of Tipasa west, easing herself into the sea ....

The first president of the independent Algiers was Houari Boumedienne. We were told we had to leave our house in Club des Pins because Fidel Castro needed it for his important political conference in the palais de nation of 1973.

This is how I will always remember Zeralda.

This has been an Alphabe Thursday post and the letter → → → → →


  1. It was great to read the memories of your time in Zeralda...How long did you live there? How old were you? Do you have pictures of you and your family there? Have you been back since? I would love to go back and visit all the places I lived growing up...

    Blessings & Aloha!

  2. Hi PSS it's great to see you again . I posted a little about Zeralda in my letter V post for Villa . I was 6 years old and we lived there for over 2 years and the only picture I have is the one of me holding our cat . I haven't been back since then but my dad has and says I would not recognize it was the same place . Google earth proves it to me as that waterslide was not there but only sand dunes . Thanks for stopping by today :)

  3. What great memories of Zeralda. It sounds like you were old enough to realize what a great adventure it was.

  4. What a wonderful place to live! I have visited Moracco, but near this wonderful spot.

  5. Very interesting post! What did your father do for a living?

  6. Judie, I guess I forgot to mention my dad worked for westburne oil drilling. We had everything then *sigh*

  7. What a nice post and how interesting. I think at that time it was possible to spend holidays in Alger. Today with all their troubles this country is not even listed anymore in the travel brochures at least not in the French once. It's a pity because I love Northern Africa, and am going each year to Egypt, but also have visited Morocco and Tunesia.

  8. Fantastic post, Jackie! I love reading posts with a personal experiences like yours..

    Waldo is another great word for W..

  9. Wonderful post for the Letter Z. So interesting and wonderful memories of several 'Z's in Zeralda.

  10. What a indepth look into your early memories! I wish I could recollect with clarity some of my childhood days. I wonder if I don't recall them so easily because there was very little impressionable moments growing up where I did.

    Thanks for visiting me today!

    ~Cathy Kennedy, Children's Author
    The Tale of Ole Green Eyes

    Check out…
    Z is for ...{Alphabe-Thursday Meme} post.
    Don't Get Left Behind {More Thursday Memes} post.

  11. Hi Jackie...you can zip over to Libya now! Or back to Zeralda - very interesting.

  12. What a wonderful "z" post! I would love to visit Algiers and walk along the beach..it looks amazing.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely memories with us...

  13. How cool that you grew up somewhere exotic and now have memories that are that vivid.

  14. I remember reading about this once before. You've had an interesting life!


  15. Looks like a gorgeous place! I am drooling over that beach.

  16. it's a beautiful place. You were lucky to be able to experience it - one of the benefits of being military: seeing the world! {:-Deb

  17. this was such an interesting post, you had such an unusual childhood and I appreciate you sharing all this information with us. Reelfoot Lake was formed by an earthquake which is very unlikely in Tennessee, that is why i wanted to go and see. It is so different from where I live.

  18. The photo of the crisp white arched walls, the tiled walkway and the blue sea beyond is the impression I have when thinking of the Mediterranean...so beautiful.

  19. Thanks for sharing your memories. I enjoyed reading about them. I would've spent most of my time at the pool or beach, too.

  20. look at that beautiful ocean..or should I say sea. what a pretty place.

  21. Hey Jackie, I was so excited to see you visiting Lazy on Loblolly,
    yep! the pancake muffins were tasty but I love a good banana-nut too.

    Love your blog, and your post was sooo interesting and exciting, I love to travel.
    Looks like an amazing place to visit.
    Funny about the maid.
    Lazy on Loblolly

  22. Hi Jackie, what a great Z post, very interesting! My Hubby worked in Africa about 4 years ago and one of his favorite co-workers was from Algiers. He still keeps in touch with him every once in awhile. Have a wonderful weekend, Nan

  23. Wow. What a fascinating read. I liked all the details you shared with us here about the food and your life-style there.

    What incredible memories you have from this time.

    Thanks for sharing them with us.

    This was an enchanting wrap up to Round Two of Alphabe-Thursday!

    I've enjoyed your posts over the past months!


  24. What a fascinating post, I shall certainly remember Zeralda should it ever pop up in a quiz - thank you

  25. Hi this is guitahmed
    ***Jackie thank you for your wonderful post***
    and here are some links to see Mount Chenoua


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