Photographer's Note

This is from a small town called Melika in the M'Zab Valley in Algeria, approximately 500 km south of Algiers. I visited Melika briefly at the start of a long journey through the Sahara and West Africa during the winter of 1981-82. Only three days earlier I had left Stockholm.

The M'Zab Valley in the northern part of the Sahara is home to a very conservative branch of Islam. The major city Ghardaia is surrounded by at least half a dozen small towns of quite different characters, most of them within walking distance.

I had been here for a few days in September 1975 but had only seen Melika from the main road that time. In 1981 I just spent a day in the valley between two buses on my way south. Although this was less than 35 years ago I had to consult my diary to remember anything from my visit to Melika.

I didn't know where to find the most convenient way to reach Melika, so I just walked at random past a rubbish dump until I found the road going up the hill to the town.
Maybe even more than the other towns in the valley Melika looked like a fortress. The town was surrounded by a thick wall with just a few narrow entrances.
I took a long walk along the narrow alleys. Lots of kids came running after me, shouting "bonjour", shaking my hand and laughing, but even most grown-ups, including a few women, greeted me politely. The atmosphere was laid-back and pleasant, and perhaps this was the nicest town in this area.

This photo was taken just outside the town. Some houses seem to be built on top of the wall. If you think the sky looks unnaturally dark blue I can assure you I didn't use any sophisticated filter, nor did I manipulate it during scanning or photoshopping. This is what it really looked like.

This is only the second photo ever posted on TE from Melika, By a strange coincidence the first one was also mine. It belongs to my category "very special", being one of my personal favourites. I also once showed a more postcardish photo from the town, taken from the main road in 1975, as a workshop.

All photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides. Here is a larger version

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12410 W: 572 N: 23828] (101956)
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