Under the circumstances, a little non-linguistic posting seems to be called for. Some criminal exploded a bomb here in Dellys yesterday, down by the port just east of the centre. Neither I nor anybody I know was hurt, but the hospital was kept very busy. I haven't heard much clear news yet, but I understand there have been some 30 deaths, mostly young Army conscripts along with a couple of port workers standing nearby. Everyone here is shocked (of course) and angry - an attack on such a scale around here is unprecedented - but continuing with business as usual (apart from the port of course, which is closed last I checked.)
That story you can follow in the news easily, and, here on the scene though I am, I am probably worse informed about it than someone reading all the press releases; I haven't been down to the port since I got here. So I'll talk a bit about the environmental situation instead. On the part of the beach just east of sid-əl-məjni سيدي المجني, things get a bit depressing. After a couple of years of being free or sewage (zigu, from French (le)s égouts), the nearby stream (wad-əl-gəṭṭaṛ) is once again flowing a nice greyish-black colour. Only now, since the 2003 earthquake (əz-zənzla), the sea it used to flow into is a good deal lower (technically, the land is higher), so the black stuff just accumulates along the shallows to its west, and the stream's delta, coated with nitrate-loving vegetation, is poking out a good ten metres into what used to be the sea. The ecological effects are interesting; little river trees and bushes are appearing all along the shoreline of the black spot in what used to be sand, and swifts (xŭṭṭayəf) are swooping all over the area eating up the bugs it nourishes. At this rate, the whole bit between the stream and Sid-el-Medjni will probably not be a beach at all for much longer; it'll turn into some kind of swamp. I'm told the effects are visible further out to sea as well; off that part you only see one species of seaweed, and practically no sea urchins (lŭggi). A recent week-long heat wave got forest fires breaking out all over the country, to the point that the sea water was coloured with ashes. And don't get me started on the problem of sand theft (sand is needed for building, and nonstop, if slow, building is happening everywhere all the time), which has turned what used to be the widest sand beaches in the area, at Takdempt and Sahel, into thin strips disappearing into the sea, and led to the collapse of at least one house that I'm told had once been a good hundred metres from the beach, at whose windows seawater now laps. People say environmental issues aren't relevant in Algeria; personally, I find they tend to be a lot more conspicuous here than in the UK.