The Editor also has some Algerian Anecdotes….
As the Hawk Project Manager I was part of Peter Boxer’s team putting together a Hawk manufacturing proposal to the requirements of the Algerian authorities - I can’t remember which Ministry it was. Anyway, on the back of a requirement for some 35 Hawks they loaded a factory, an airfield and a training school. The proposal was to be prepared jointly by BAe and the Algerians. This meant that we visited Algeria for fact finding and discussions which would define the task. We would then go home, write the ‘joint’ report, hand it over on the next visit for review and amendment. Each time further requirements were added, each time the cost went up. This was pointed out to our ‘partners’ but we were told that that was their problem, not ours, so please add in the new items. Eventually the proposal was submitted to the Algerian treasury who rejected it as outrageously expensive - and are probably still laughing to this day.
I too stayed at the El Aurassi and had a similarly
exciting time. On the first visit we checked in, took the lift to
whichever floor our rooms were on and tried to find them. The corrodor
lighting was poor and most of the numbers had fallen off the doors so
we had to work out which ones they were. I went into my room which was
very hot so I turned up the air conditioning. In response all the
lights went out! When the lights were reinstated, and the air con
turned down, I started to settle in. There were strip lights over the
wardrobe doors cunningly placed so that when the doors were slid open
they blanked out the lights leaving a small table lamp as the only
light source. I then thought I would use the loo. Sitting there I found
my back was getting even warmer; the cistern had been plumbed into the
hot water supply. We also had the water problem and the bath reservoir
Next, dinner. In the restaurant we were impressed by the large menu. Unfortunately it was fictitious and the choice was minimal. I chose the veal cutlet. On arrival it was beautifully presented but trying to cut it, let alone chew it, was impossible. It really was as tough as the proverbial shoe leather. Availability of drinks was also a problem. Sometimes there was gin but no tonics or vice versa, beer was in short supply and the wine was ‘variable’ in quality. There was clearly a distribution problem.
We were driven round at ridiculously high speeds in black Government Peugeot 504 saloons. Sitting in front I went to put on the seat belt only to get an angry response from the driver. “No, no” he shouted. “Your safety is my responsibility”. We also had a desert air base visit and were entertained in the officers mess. I don’t recall many flies and the meal was OK. However, the dessert was large bunches of fresh dates which were delicious. I noticed my host rolling each date before eating it and asked him why he did it. He said you could feel if there were maggots inside! Why, I thought, didn’t he tell me first before we started eating?