Asmera . nl  
       
Eritrea September 2002
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
next page >>   << previous
 
 2002 Touring through Eritrea
 

 

Barentu Eritrea - September 13th 2002

 

I do not need an alarm clock here in Keren. At 4:30 the cock, dogs, and donkeys assure that everyone will wake up. At 5:00 the mosque sounds its prayers. Gebre and Habte are late. Habte first went to the bus terminal to reserve the best seats in the bus. The driver was late. At 6:00 we leave the bus station in a Toyota minibus that will bring us to Barentu with a stop over in Agordat. Again the road is a perfectly asphalted connection. The only obstacles are livestock crossing the road with little respect for the small van.

The landscape between Keren and Barentu is open, dominantly green hills with scattered trees. Every once and a while we pass little villages with their cone shaped houses or a mountain that appears to rise from the earth. Small herds of camels have the scarce vegetation for breakfast.

At 10:30 we arrive in Barentu. Habte wants to show me the modern part of Barentu, but I prefer the traditional part, where the Kunama live. We pass the Gash Setit Hotel that was destroyed, totally dismantled and looted by the retreating Ethiopian Army. It used to be the nicest hotel in the region, but in 2000 it served as the temporary accommodation of the Ethiopian Army when they invaded this part of Eritrea, and now it serves as a living monument of Ethiopia's rich history of regional economic terrorism. The Ethiopian Army also detonated administrative buildings and other key commercial and private homes in Barentu.

We walk the dusty roads of the village, snaking through the alleys. I never before visited Barentu. The books describe the Kunama as the original population of Eritrea, which resulted in my expectations to find rather primitive circumstances and people acting reserved towards tourists.

But against my expectations the people are kind. A modern Kunama girl approaches me when we are sitting in a bar and invites me to the house of her family. "It is ok. You can go with her. I will wait for you in this bar" Habte says to me. I follow the girl through the little alleys between the traditional houses. I drink tea in the house of the girls family. The limited knowledge of English of this Kunama family makes it difficult to start a conversation.

I do not want to talk about the war, but sitting in the small one room dwelling, the images of Ethiopian Migs shelling these little houses and soldiers setting fire to what the planes could not hit keeps crossing my mind. These Ethiopian demoralization campaigns, destruct and pull back, must have been hell for these people.

The girl is studying economics at the University of Asmara. Her family has some livestock and a small piece of land where they grow vegetables. "Life is work and sleep here in Barentu", the girl says. "Work and work and work" her father affirms, moving his hands as if he is harvesting. After 30 minutes we return to the bar where Habte is waiting for me, chatting with his acquaintances and the owner of the bar.

I want to breathe more of the Barentu atmosphere, but Habte wants to show me Agordat as well, so we walk back to the bus station take the bus to Agordat.

 

The Gash Setit Hotel - temporary accommodation of the Ethiopian Army.

The Gash Setit Hotel - temporary accommodation of the Ethiopian Army.

The landscape around Barentu, capital of the Gash Barka region.

The landscape around Barentu, capital of the Gash Barka region.

The always welcome, painted on the outsise wall of one of Barentu's hotels.

The always welcome, painted on the outside wall of one of Barentu's hotels.

Street life in Barentu - women and children gathering at a small flour factory.

Street life in Barentu - women and children gathering at a small flour factory.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Street life in the traditional part of Barentu.

Inside view on the roof of the small Barentu house.

Inside view on the roof of the small Barentu house.

Little tailors shop in Barentu.

Little tailors shop in Barentu.

 

 
| Home & index | Top | Contact | Next | Previous | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2011