Dinosaur of the week: Ruddy Shelduck

Tadorna ferruginea is a rather special bird. In Buddhism, it’s sacred. The species is also nocturnal.

I saw this specimen at the Farmoor reservoir near Oxford – that’s really unusual. It’s quite likely the bird has gone feral, because the main area ranges from south-east Europe to Asia. The European population is in decline, mainly because of hunting.

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Oran – The Library

Slowly, but bit by bit, we’re getting to know more of our new home. Today, we had the vague plan to spend the day excursing. We ended up figuring out how to use the local tram, and bought an enormous scratching post for our felines. However, we also managed to visit the library. Actually, according to my guidebook, The City Library.

Waving down a taxi was easy, but telling the driver in my limited French we wanted to go to La bibliotheque (not la librairie – that’d be bookshop) was a wee bit trickier. He understood the words, but didn’t seem to know the place. So I resorted to pointing to the picture in my guidebook: oui, la cath√©drale!entranceThe building used to be a cathedral, and it’s actually also not that old. So we got there, and then we were a bit uncertain if we’d be allowed to sneak a view and maybe a photo of the interior. No problem at all!

As you can see, it is a bit different. Although it was very unlike what I had imagined, after a few minutes in there I could see the charming side of the place. Some people were reading, some had a look around like us, some were just chatting and having a good time.

The books were an extremely intriguing and eclectic collection. Mr Feynman’s collected lectures on quantum physics were totally unexpected, especially with the low-tech filing system at hand.

I felt it was half an hour well-spent. This library (I don’t know if there are others) is quite out-of-the-way for us, but if I lived anywhere close by, I’d visit there regularly. And for those among you who can read Arabic, here’s a bit more information.history

Oran – Construction

In my last post about Oran (https://spockisworld.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/oran-on-the-edge/) I mentioned the ubiquitous plastic rubbish and how nobody seems to care. I stand corrected, at least regarding the latter thoughts. Last weekend I saw quite a crowd of people gathering in the forest near our home. What I thought was a running event turned out to be the local version of a beach clean! So, yes, lots of rubbish, in particular way too much plastic, but people notice and act.

Oran is also a place where lots of construction is taking place. My colleague told me that many of these sites are in Chinese hands. That’s not exactly a cause for happiness among Algerians, because jobs on those sites also go to Chinese workers.¬† The park within this particular construction area seems to be a favourite spot among young people, especially couples.

From the same spot, but looking west one can see the building where my school is in – the complex with the green dome, half-hidden behind the three buildings-to-be. Then you

get just an idea of the port, and beyond that is the target for a weekend excursion: a hill with an Ottoman fortress on top. Stay tuned!

Oran – On the Edge

Oran is the second biggest city in Algeria. It’s also a major port with ferry connections to Spain and France. Apart from the harbour area, the coastline is formed by a rather high cliff where gulls and falcons can be seen sailing past.

Absolutely lovely. On the other hand, the cliff area is also used as a rubbish tip. Which is disgusting. And I leave it to your imagination what it might be that’s flowing out of that pipe.

Environmental awareness seems to be quite low, judging by the plastic bags everywhere. They can be found even in the trees in the scrubland behind our home.

On the bright side, the locals use this place as a spot for recreation, and we’re happy to join the crowd. People go for a run, play football, or just come to enjoy the view.

And this is the garden area behind the school. I’ve been told it’s possible to take the students out here. How about that for a classroom!

Oran – Our New Garden

We have moved! Our new home, hopefully for a substantial period of time, is in Oran, Algeria. Our employer has provided us (me, husband, two cats) with accommodation in a huge villa which we share with another teacher. Our villa comes with a lovely garden. There’s an orchard with a fig tree, a pear tree, something I failed to identify, and a tree that bears either lemons or oranges. We’ll find out in a few weeks.

On the other side of the house, there’s the flower garden with roses, lots of climbing plants and this:

If you know what species this is, please leave a comment. Also, if you’re interested in anything in particular about life in Algeria, let me know.