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 2002 Touring through Eritrea
 

 

Keren Eritrea - September 12th 2002

 

I take the local bus to one of the three bus terminals. On all three terminals the buses serving a specific region are gathered. One terminal for Nefasit, Ghinda and Massawa, one for Keren and Agordat and one for the buses serving Dekemhare, Adi Keih and Senafe. At the bus station a boy will try to attract passengers to the bus. "Keren, Agordat, Keren Agordat." The bus will leave when all the seats are occupied. There is little room for luggage in the bus. I also pay for the seat next to me, so I can keep an eye on my suitcase.

I choose a seat near one of the windows than can be opened during the journey, so I can make some video as well. Little boys try to sell chewing gum, candy, coffee beans and other stuff to the passengers. The driver starts the engine and it looks as if the bus is leaving. But it does not. I think the driver is trying to attract passengers to the bus be making it look like it is about to leave. The passengers claim the seat by leaving some of their luggage on the seat, so that they can wait outside, or drink tea in one of the little bars next to the bus terminal. The bus will sound the horn before leaving. After more than 30 minutes the oil levels of the bus are checked and the bus finally leaves the terminal.

The road to Keren is a good asphalt road. The road is sometimes narrow and the curves are a bit dangerous, so the driver will sound his horn to notify oncoming traffic. There are no opportunities to make way with a mountain on one side and a steep ravine on the other side of the road. About half way the bus stops in a small village. The passengers drink some tea and stretch their legs. Local children sell roasted maize cobs and other food to the passengers. For some reason all the children are gone when I try to picture them.

The approach of Keren is easily recognized by the increasing number of little houses with cone shaped roofs, Tukuls, against the hills. At 11:00 after a two hours journey we arrive in Keren. The bus terminal in Keren is the former railway station.

I ask for the road to Ciuf Ciufit, and start walking in the direction indicated by the local population. I brought a copy of some the pictures of last years visit to indicate my destination. Some boys playing on the street recognize the little shop, "Dukan" on the picture and guide my to the house of Hansu and Afworki, where I will stay a couple of days. They are both still at work, but no problem. The neighbors living on the other side of the street invite me in their house and I drink some Sprite.

After some 30 minutes Hansu and Afworki are back in the house to enjoy their luncheon break. They live in a sober house with a garden / yard, surrounded by a wall of seven feet high. The house has three rooms. A little separate construction serves as a kitchen and another as bathroom / toilet. Apart from the fact that all walls are made of stone, the living conditions are those one would expect on a camping. Dust, sand, life in the open air, cold shower. But with temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 degrees the temperature of the water was acceptable. I drink lots of tea. The journey and the walking in the burning sun has made me thirsty.

Gebre, Afworki's brother has been waiting for me at the bus station. I feel sorry for him. I told Hansu it would be no problem to find their house, but he decided to pick me up anyway. Hansu and Afworki go back to their work, and I walk back to the center of Keren with Gebre. He will show me the Italian cemetery. The cemetery looks like a large garden. Only the white marble gravestones with the names of the soldiers or "ascaro incognito" give away the real nature of the grounds.

In my enthusiasm to make pictures, I do not see an thick overhanging branch of a tree. The result is a badly bleeding wound. Now I know why a small fist aid kit should be part of the luggage. Unfortunately, I only have some paper handkerchiefs to stop the bleeding. In one of the nearby bars I wipe the blood of my face with some water. We visit the Keren market and the many shops surrounding the market. I want to buy a bottle of araki for Afworki. "Afworki does not drink any alcohol". I have no other ideas regarding gifts, so I decide to leave some money when I will leave.

 

 

The road to Keren, the bus passing Elabered.

The road to Keren, the bus passing Elabered.

Typical housing, Tukuls on the slope of the hills, indicating the approach of Keren.

Typical housing, Tukuls on the slope of the hills, indicating the approach of Keren.

The bus station in Keren.

The bus station in Keren.

The road to Shifshifit, leading to the house of Hansu and Afworki.

The road to Ciuf Ciufit, leading to the house of Hansu and Afworki.

Donkeys as means of transport in the dusty streets of Keren.

Donkeys as means of transport in the dusty streets of Keren.

Public transport in Keren.

Public transport in Keren.

The road to Shifshifit passing the house of Hansu and Afworki.

The road to Ciuf Ciufit passing the house of Hansu and Afworki.

The road to Shifshifit passing the house of Hansu and Afworki.

The road to Ciuf Ciufit passing the house of Hansu and Afworki.

The court yard of Hansu and Afworki's house.

The court yard of Hansu and Afworki's house.

The Italian cemetery in Keren with its colorful flowers.

The Italian cemetery in Keren with its colorful flowers.

 

 
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