Lucy’s Travel Diary
So here I found myself, sitting in one of the most luxurious trains in the world, The Blue Train, also known as a window to the soul of Africa, starting a long and exciting journey. I sipped a lovely cup of hot coffee and nestled into the soft seat.
Usually, The Blue Train only travels through South Africa.
For some mysterious reason, however, I managed to book a very special ride, taking me all around Africa!
Still, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lonely.
William had promised – promised! – that he would join me on this journey. And yet, here I am on my own, the seat next to me cold and empty, while William had stayed back to tend to our home station.
I looked out the window. My eyes couldn’t get enough of the bright and colourful scenery, refusing to blink and miss any of the warm and rich oranges, browns and greens of Algeria.
The train had been gliding along for quite a while without a stop, yet I knew we must still be in Algeria, simply because the conductor had not made any loudspeaker announcement stating anything different.
Never had I seen so much sand! I was pretty sure it was supposed to be the Sahara, but of course, I had forgotten my travel guide Africa for Dummies and couldn’t be sure. I blamed William, he would never have forgotten something like this. He even colour-coded and folded away his underwear in a file cabinet (his white ones were coloured blue, his green ones yellow and so on).
Suddenly the train got slower. I didn’t understand why, as there didn’t appear to be any station in sight. I put my coffee cup down and looked around until I noticed a female conductor walking in my direction.
I waved her down, hoping to get some insight into why we seemed to be making an unplanned stop. Before I could ask her though, I got distracted by a pair of huge, sand-coloured ears poking out behind a sand dune. At first, I thought I was imagining it, but then I saw one of the ears twitch!
Behind me, the conductor politely coughed, and all I thought to say was:
‘Do you see it too?’
She laughed softly and answered in a lovely warm and rich voice:
‘It’s a Fennec Fox. It is native to the deserts of North Africa, like the Sahara we are currently riding through.’
Without being able to tear my eyes away from the small sand-brown body, which now started following the huge ears over the dune, I asked:
‘How does it survive out here? There is literally nothing but sand!’
The conductor laughed again and sat down opposite me, and answered:
‘The fennec fox has adapted its ears, its coat and even its kidneys to be able to deal with high temperatures and only little water. It eats things like insects, small animals and birds. You’d be surprised how alive a desert can be, despite it looking so uninhabitable.’
Finally, I tore my eyes away from the Fennec Fox and smiled at the Conductor:
‘You seem to know a lot about the Sahara. My name is Lucy, nice to meet you!’
She smiled back and replied:
‘I should, Africa is my home, my heart and my workplace. My name is Abeni, nice to meet you too. Are you travelling alone?’
I turned my gaze back out the window and sighed:
‘Unfortunately, and I forgot my Africa for dummies guide…’
‘No worries, I am happy to answer questions you might have and tell you all about Africa. For example, did you know that the Fennec Foxes live in burrows, which can be as large as 120m²? You are quite lucky you got to see one, as its sand-coloured fur usually allows it to hide quite well. It reflects sunlight during the day and helps it stay warm during the night. I suppose the long ears gave it away, though.’
I tried to catch another glimpse of the cute little fox, but it had already disappeared.
‘Fascinating! We are currently in Algeria, correct?’
‘Exactly. Officially it is called the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, and it’s the largest nation in Africa and even the 10th largest nation by area world-wide! The majority of Algeria’s population is Arab; therefore, most people here speak Algerian Arabic. However, French is also quite common. The capital and largest city is Algiers, which is located in the far north on the Mediterranean coast. We will make a stop there for a few hours, so you should get out and take a look, it is quite interesting.’
Abeni then looked at her watch and got up.
‘I need to get on with my work now, but I will be sure to stop by again. Enjoy your travels!’
I thanked her and waved goodbye.
I then got out my Travel Diary and decided to write down this encounter. Little did I know that this had just been the beginning of a good friendship and wonderful stories and information about all the things I was yet to see on this special adventure.