Subject: Spookiest spots (Constantine, Algeria)
Spookiest spots

My top candidate is the ancient walled city of Constantine in Algeria, where I visited friends (Angela and Terry) for 3 weeks in 1971.

I arrived at night and was the only woman on the Air Algeria trip from Algiers to Constantine. The airport building was an open air structure resembling a horse corral. The few men on the plane cleared out quickly and there was literally no one left in the airport. Terrified, I went outside and was overjoyed to see that there was a lone taxi at the far end of the parking lot. I had my friend's address and off we went bumping into the night

Finally the taxi arrived at a desolate long brick apartment building that seemed to stretch for 2 blocks or more. There was mud and clay outside (no cement roads or sidewalks) and my friends did not have an apartment number. In almost total darkness, the cabbie went from suite to suite speaking in Arabic and finally he found my pals' apartment. To say I was relieved would be an understatement.

Constantine was the only place I have ever had rocks thrown at me. People would throw stones at Angela and I presumably for being westerners; she and Terry taught at the university there and we always dressed conservatively. Perhaps it was the aftermath of the brutal French-Algerian war (1954-62). The city's walls were covered in angry political graffiti.

The souk (old market) in Constantine was unforgettable, with hanging carcasses of sheep with flies swarming around them. Everywhere there seemed to be blind or crippled people lying on the streets with fly-infested cataracts.

Since 1991, tens of 1000s of people have been killed in the bloody civil war between the military and Islamic fundamentalists, including many westerners.

I think back to that spooky night of my arrival in Constantine, how such a trip would be impossible now, and thank my lucky stars for having had the experience. Especially, I'm grateful for the patience and kindness of the Algerian cab driver who persevered to help a young Canadian in jeans and backpack to find her friends. Such are the magic memories of travel.

Cheers, Pat Recent travel: