In Ouijda the coast road left Morocco and entered Algeria.

"The Algerians don't like us."

Since being warned by the U.S. consul, Hellanback had dreaded this day. In Ouijda, he thought, his pilgrimage might end. He knew he lacked the faith to circumnavigate Algeria in the Sahara with only his blanket.

He sought out the Algerian consulate, entered, and fearing the worst, presented his U.S. passport to the clerk.

Officiously the clerk took his papers. "Come back, one hour."

Hellanback hesitated. Could he entrust his passport to the clerk of a hostile people? Should he protest? Was the clerk itching to bend, fold, spindle, mutilate, or destroy his precious travel document as soon as he left the office?

He decided to leave it in the hands of God, and left.

His worry made the hour seem like a day. Punctually he presented himself to the clerk, who returned his passport, intact, and with a visa.

Jubilantly, he left the consulate. Obtaining papers to enter Algeria had been quicker and easier than getting papers to leave the United States.

While living in the States Hellanback had visited Canadian and Mexican border towns, but had considered those places kind of like American amusement parks. As life had not posed immediate questions, so he had never given serious consideration to the separation of distinct geopolitical entities.

The Politsario, a group thought to be freedom fighters in Algeria and terrorists in Morocco, wanted to govern what Europeans called the Spanish Sahara. Morocco also desired the same area, a fact which contributed to active animosity between Morocco and Algeria.

The maps marked the political boundary clearly with colored lines. In reality, when he got to the frontier there was no line, not even a wall or fence, just customs buildings, through which he and his blanket passed without incident.

East of the customs houses there was a difference.

Hellanback overtookof a group of teenage farmers as they walked home from the fields. They asked his nationality. "Where your gun?" asked one

"My gun? I don't have a gun."

"All American have gun," another farmer replied.

Hellanback figured that the United States wasn't the only government to disseminate false information to its citizens.

These first Algerians he met were friendly and curious. They invited him to stop for tea, as had been the custom in Morocco. As they sat talking, Hellanback found these people indistinguishable from the Moroccans he'd sipped tea with, except that they didn't trust Moroccans. Somehow, they thought Morocco was a threat to the well-being of Algeria.

None of these young people had ever crossed the imaginary line that separated Beaumidean's sphere of power from that of King Hassan II.

During his transit of Algeria, Hellanback found that there were different dialects in Arabic, that different regions had different styles of dress and different customs. But, far as Hellanback to see, there was nothing to justify shooting someone over.

IN WAITING ===============>>