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.
Riding the camel in the dry riverbed in Keren.
Market at the Keren bus terminal - peanuts and jebena's (coffee pots)
Bus terminal and former railway station of Keren.
Orthodox church opposite to the
bus station - Keren.
Zululti making a show with sand at the Keren bus terminal.
The bus leaving Keren.
The road near Keren - Anseba river.
The road between Keren and Asmara.
Beautiful lakes close to Emba Derho.