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Eritrea September 2002
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 2002 Touring through Eritrea
 

 

Asmara Eritrea - September 11th 2002

 

In the curio shop in Harnet Avenue I buy some postcards and stamps. I choose the Damera bar to drink cappuccino and write the addresses and text on the postcards. I have made some prints of last years pictures. The girls in the Damera bar recognize their pictures and remember me of last years visit, when I had an apartment four floors above the bar. They are exited. "Do you remember me?" Of course I remember their faces, but I have forgotten their names. "I am Semira, Mebrat's niece". Semira looks a bit disappointed when I do not show any sign of spontaneous recognition. I have to ask Mebrat about this part of the family tree when I am back home. I enjoy the cappuccino's and a chocolate donut of the Damera bar before I walk to the Mask Place.

The Mask Place is one of my favorite restaurant for fast food. Nice clean cozy restaurant. A bit expensive to Eritrean standards, but not for us tourists. The girls in the Mask Place also are exited to see last years pictures. I have to take more pictures and bring them to them. The girls show me their badges. "Senait" meaning "good day", "Tegisti", Tigrinya for "patience", "Saba" which is "just" a biblical name. I have my daily dose of Coca cola. It is to early for hamburgers.

I bring my postcards to the post office. Last year I dropped them in an antique mailbox in Harnet Avenue. They were lost for three months for unknown reasons. This is the area where men are trying to earn some money changing foreign currency into Nakfa's. "Sir, you want to change dollars. I will give you a good price." I do not need their services, nor do I need their silver coins.

In the afternoon, when I am walking in the area of the Nyala hotel with Michael, my nephew, we run into Solomon, Mebrat's brother. We are invited into his house to have lunch, and drink coffee, Eritrean style. Solomon orders one of his children to wash my feet. "Please accept is as a deed of humbleness, and not as a deed of slavery. This is how we treat our beloved brothers and sisters in Eritrea" he says. The bath is a blessing for my tired feet, but I feel a bit embarrassed when one of his daughters is massaging my feet, not being used to so much kind attention.

One of Solomon's sons asks if I would like to see Asmara from above. I ask him what he is planning to do. "We go to the roof, just above the 8th floor of this residence, so you can make some nice pictures". The elevator does not work, so we take the stairs to go to the 9th floor, which is a mixture of small rooms without any facilities, storage rooms and technical areas. At the edge of the building there is a corridor around the whole 9th floor. From this corridor we have to climb an eight feet wall to get on the roof.

The boys cannot find the ladder. But there is a large oil drum and one of the boys gets us a kitchen chair. It is not my hobby to do such breath-taking climbing on the top of an Asmara Residentional building, but with the help of the boys, I am standing between antennae's and pipes a few minutes later.

Several of the boys have a room just below the roof. The apartments in the building have to little rooms for the sometimes large families. One of the boys has a tame pigeon that eats from his mouth. After showing me all the tricks of the pigeon, we go down to say goodbye to Solomon and his family. I exchange my e-mail address with Solomon's oldest daughter Aster.

When I am strolling through the streets just behind the main street a small boys offers me to be my guide. Usually they will try to earn some money, and I know my way around, so I tell him I do not need a guide. The boy keeps insisting, so I ask him why he wants to guide me. He tells me he needs some money. His plastic sandal (shida) is broken and he needs the money to have it fixed. So I ask him what it will cost. "Five or ten Nakfa's sir". I give him a ten Nakfa note and he is gone.

 

The giggling girls of the Damera bar and pastry at Harnet Avenue.

The giggling girls of the Damera bar and pastry at Harnet Avenue.

Hamburger restaurant The Mask Place just behind Harnet Avenue.

Hamburger restaurant The Mask Place just behind Harnet Avenue.

My brother in law Solomon and his eldesr daughter Aster.

My brother in law Solomon and his eldest daughter Aster.

Solomon's daughter Eden, happy with the tennis ball I brought her.

Solomon's daughter Eden, happy with the tennis ball I brought her.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

View from the roof of the Asmara Palace, the residence of Solomon.

One of the boys with his pet, a white tamed pigeon, on top of the Asmara Palace.

Boys with his pet, a white tamed pigeon, on top of the Asmara Palace.

 

 
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