The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles is paradise on Earth. Take a few minutes scrolling through Instagram to find photos of the 115-island nation and you’ll see a constant stream of blue skies, blue water, palm trees and pretty people who come to enjoy its beaches. This coming June 18, Africa’s least-populous nation celebrates its national day. In honour of the occasion, here are some photos that leave no doubt that it’s a land of beauty.
Today marks Freedom Day for South Africa, a national holiday that commemorates the nation’s first elections after the end of apartheid.
Then president Nelson Mandela said these words at the first commemoration of the holiday:
“As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.”
I was lucky enough to hear Mandela speak at a rally held in his honour in Montreal back in 1990. It was an inspiring experience.
Liberia, a country in West Africa, was founded, established, colonized and controlled by citizens of the United States and ex-Caribbean slaves as a colony for former African American slaves and their free black descendants. It was an American protectorate until 1847 when it declared its independence.
I took this photo in 2001 on a trip in Morocco. We were driving to the coastal city of Essaouira and stopped en route to take some photos of the desert-like landscape. These curious girls who lived nearby came to see what we were doing. I snapped their photo and it was better than any of the landscape photos I took in that spot.
Even though it lies off the coast of Africa, the first people who settled the massive island of Madagascar are thought to have come from the area around Indonesia. It’s just one of the reasons the nation’s culture is so distinct from other African nations.
The sun had just risen and we were eating breakfast along the shore of the Tsiribihana River in southern Madagascar when a fisherman and his son approached with their catch.
Our guide bargained with the father to buy some fish to supplement our rations. I took advantage of their haggling to snap some photos of the son as he waited.
Later, we would set off in our pirogue, a sort of dugout canoe, to complete our three-day journey along the river. My companions were an unlikely pair of Frenchmen who worked in a daycare back in France and our steadfast guide who cheerfully steered our route.
It was a highlight in a trip to a beautiful country that was filled with highlights.
Now that the world has gone crazy, Algeria is one of those amazing countries that many people don’t visit anymore.
This photo is from a 1991 trip I took to see the Grand Erg Occidental, also known as the Western Sand Sea, in the Sahara Desert in Algeria. It is of a mosque on the top of the hill in the town of Ghardaia. I had just arrived after taking a 600-kilometre taxi ride from the southern town of Timimoun.
I had been stuck forever trying to get a bus ride out of Beni Abbes, but kept missing the through bus which had a schedule that was apparently random. It might arrive in the day, it might arrive at night. Whatever.
I finally caught the bus after three days of waiting and had to stand the entire night as we drove through the moonlit desert. I slept on my feet, hanging on to the overhead rack to keep from falling down and hallucinated much of the ride.
Eventually, I descended at Timimoun, tired and cranky from the bus trip. I decided that dusty town wasn’t worth spending any time in. Since there was no telling when the next bus out of town was, I looked at other options. A shared taxi was one of them.
I found a driver heading to Ghardaia, but he wouldn’t leave until the car was full. I sat in the shade of date palms at the taxi stand to stay out of the hot sun. Some of the trees were short enough that I could nibble on dates as I waited.
Hours passed, but no other riders turned up. Tired of waiting, I offered to pay the fares for the missing riders, which amounted to only a few dollars. The driver agreed and we headed out on an 8-hour drive along the lonely stretch of highway north. We passed wild camels and road crews clearing blowing sand off the roads using equipment I associate with snow clearing.
It was probably the most memorable taxi ride of my life.
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