Yesterday afternoon we reached Oran, a large city in time for prayers at a Mosque. From there the decision was taken to push on to Alger about 200kms away. The police assured us it would only take a Fez hours and dangled the carrot of hotels for all. In fact we arrived about 4am because the police kept stopping us. The only up side was the phenomenal response from people enroute which kept us going. How one of us hasn't been killed through lack of sleep whilst driving is either pure luck or Allah looking after us depending upon your persuasion.
John and I were woken at 6am by an Iman singing in the corridor outside our room, calling the faithful to prayer. I can faithfully say I nearly...well you can imagine. We've threatened to sing "You ain't nothing but a hound dog" outside his bedroom at 5am to see how he likes it. Ahh the sweet sound of cultures clashing!
The day descended into chaos as the Algerian police wouldn't let us leave the grounds of the barracks we were staying in. The convoy leaders were in an hotel 20kms away and similarly unable to move.
George Galloway arrived today but not even he could clear the blockage in the system. Eventually we rebelled and formed our part of the convoy at the barracks gates and insisted they let us out. We had realised we were effectively prisoners. The police were forced into action and escorted us to where the rest of the convoy are. By this time we had wasted an entire day. We were taken to what looked like a cross between a prison camp and a camp site. As I write we have nowhere to sleep but screw it we're getting a taxi into town to see what there is. After 10 days sitting in a truck walking any distance is a novelty and painful on my old knees.
Tomorrow morning I'm up at 5.30 am to help organise the convoy so that we're on the road asap. The planned meeting never happened but hopefully the fantastic comradeship by the many will swamp those whose agenda is entirely their own. Someone has just offered me their bed for the night, saying they will sleep on the floor. That is the kind of solidarity we are experiencing at every moment. We will get to Gaza, and we are determined to do it in a manner befitting our humanitarian objective.
From here on in we are sleeping rough and ready. If we'd known we weren't travelling today we could have done laundry. Fortunately I've been doing my smalls along the way, so unlike John I'm not starting to recycle. Driving with the windows open may soon become a necessity! Love to all. Come on Man Utd! Greg. X