Day 73: Hassi-Messaoud
'We eat well before Ramadan,' jokes one of my hosts.
The only thing missing is a bottle of Beaujolais, but the ban on alcohol is, I'm assured, a general rule in all drilling areas, anywhere in the world.
The Algerian executives seem comfortably westernised. The head of the base refers to his countrymen as 'Mediterranean people' and dinner-table conversation revolves around such bourgeois topics as children's education, keeping fit, summer holidays and life in Algiers, to which most of them return for three weeks' leave, every four weeks. I ask them the reasons for the high level of security at Hassi-Messaoud, the massive fences, the armed guards, the watchtowers. Do terrorists strike this far south?
A few swift glances are exchanged around the table, a wordless debate as to how much I should be told. Oilworkers were killed in 1992 but since then it's been safe. The boss man leans back, dabbing his mouth with a napkin. Apart, that is, from 'Glass Eye'.
Choose another day from Sahara