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Eritrea September 2002
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 2002 Touring through Eritrea
 

 

Keren Eritrea - September 18th 2002

 

I say goodbye to Hansu and Afworki. The have to go to their work very early. To show my appreciation I give them 500 Nakfa. "But you were our guest". For them it is half a month salary, I know the can make good use of it. I have to promise them I will come back next year.

Then I go to the house of Gebre and Habte. They were my guide to Agordat, Barentu, Elaberet and Nakfa and do not have a job, being part of the military. They have no one in the Diaspora to help them financially and have to support their parents and sister, so I give them the same amount I gave to Afworki.

I remind them of the fact that I did not ride the camel. So we walk to the dry riverbed in Keren, where the men are unloading their camels. We ask what it will cost to make a short ride on the camels back. It will cost me 20 Nakfa, compared to the 300 Nakfa they wanted to charge me in the town called Nakfa. It is a tense moment when the camel rises, like riding the mechanical bull on a fair, but the ride itself is quite easy. I only cover a few hundred meters, enough for the time being. I should not take to many risks. There is ten more days to go.

Then it is time to go to the bus station. Habte makes sure I have a nice seat in front of the bus. Through the front door of the bus I see a girl throwing sand on her own head. "Zululti" (she is mad), the passenger next to me explains. The driver of the bus ends the show by closing the door of his bus.

Back in Asmara I deliver my 35mm films at Photo Zubeir. It will take a few hours to finish them, so I leave my luggage in the Pizzeria of Terhas. She did not expect me to stay that long in Keren, so I have to tell her all about the trips I made. I enjoy one of the pizzeria's dishes and then start roaming the sunny streets of Asmara, visiting the market, still hoping to find the girl I met last year, visit some of the shops in the main street and the pastry's and bars. Old men are trying to sell silver coins, children want me to buy handkerchiefs.

Every once and a while old women lean against the buildings, holding up their hand, hoping I will give them some change. I expect they lost their family in the war. Nobody is taking care of them. The allowance they receive from the government is not enough.

I visit the Asmara railway station. When I start asking questions about the time line of the reconstruction of the railway I am told to visit the office of the railways, just behind the railway station. "Ask for mister Amanuel".A few minutes later I sit in the office of Mr. Amanuel Gebresellasie, the manager of the Eritrean railways. We chat about the progress of the reconstruction and drink some tea. He offers me to charter a small locomotive with a passenger car to make a 12 kilometers descent in the direction of Nefasit. Although I find it an exiting idea, I do not think I will be able to find the passengers for such a trip. I tell him I hope I can do the trip from Asmara to Massawa next year. He assures me the line will be operational when I return next year.

Early in the evening I collect my pictures and return to the house of Terhas and Feshaye in the Sembel Residentional Complex. Only Tsega, who is working as an au pair and 18 month old Hiab are home. Tsega hardly speaks any English and when I show her the pictures, I understand she never left Asmara. She makes me some tea and wants to cook for me. But  I took good care of my stomach in Asmara, and just want to rest.

Very late in the evening Terhas and Feshaye return from their jobs. We drink some Asmara Zibib. Feshaye tells me he is going to a funeral tomorrow in Tsorona. They have chartered a mini bus and will leave at 4:00 in the morning. Unfortunately there is no seat left in the bus for me. I decide to go on my own to visit Senafe.

 

Former railway viaduct in Keren.

Former railway viaduct in Keren.

Riding the camel in the dry riverbed in Keren.

Riding the camel in the dry riverbed in Keren.

Market at the Keren bus terminal - peanuts and jebena's (coffee pots)

Market at the Keren bus terminal - peanuts and jebena's (coffee pots)

Bus terminal and former railway station of Keren.

Bus terminal and former railway station of Keren.

Gebre and Habte at the former Keren railway station, now bus terminal.

Orthodox church opposite to the bus station - Keren.

Zululti making a show with sand at the Keren bus terminal.

Zululti making a show with sand at the Keren bus terminal.

The bus leaving Keren.

The bus leaving Keren.

The road near Keren - Anseba river.

The road near Keren - Anseba river.

The road between Keren and Asmara.

The road between Keren and Asmara.

Beautiful lakes close to Emba Derho.

Beautiful lakes close to Emba Derho.

 

 
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