Selection from one of Ernesto de Sousa's "Cartas do Meu Magreb", (ed. Tinta da China) exhibition sheet at Cristina Lamas' "September Days" exhibition in Algiers, 23-25.09.2023, at Les Ateliers Sauvages, under the auspices of the Camões Institute (38 Rue Didouche Mourad - Alger)). Les Ateliers Sauvages is run by Wassyla Tamzali, an Algerian writer, lawyer and feminist.
"Last letter from Algiers 10 October 1962
I've overcome two major crises, both at the same time. One was a cold, which - I learnt later - can be very dangerous in these parts. But, by dint of strictness and discipline, it seems to have passed. The other had to do with the following comic situation: I couldn't find a boat ticket and, day by day, I found myself without any money. It's a strange feeling to be on this side of the world and not even be able to enjoy a hitchhiking trip. But after a lot of subterfuge, which I'll tell you about later, I managed to get a 4th class ticket in the hold for tomorrow, Thursday. I'm still almost penniless, twenty dollars, and I assure you I've tightened my belt.I've discovered that if you eat nothing but bread and cheese, you can live on a hundred francs a day (about five escudos).Not to mention a few glasses of milk.I only allowed myself one splurge: the day I got my ticket, I was so excited that I went to see Hiroshima, mon amour (four hundred and fifty francs). Obviously, it was worth it. Work keeps me busy and in a couple of hours I'm going to visit the television station and interview a director I met filming in the streets of the kasbah: the first Algerian film since independence. I've also been shown two resistance documentaries. One of them, the deeply moving Yasmina, helped me more than anything else to love this suffering and tenacious people. I spend all my time with them. It's in the kasbah (the kasbah is the Alfama from here) that I feel at ease. And it's in their company that I'll be travelling, because there are several hundred of them heading back to France to look for work once again. How I love them and what emotions we share!
And one day I'll have to come back, after the enormous task to which Alleg refers, little Peter Lorre with thinning blond hair: a friend.
Ernesto de Sousa