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Eritrea September 2002
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 2002 Touring through Eritrea
 

 

Mendefera Eritrea - September 24th 2002

 

When I recognize the dome of the Kidane Meheret Church, I know it is time to leave the bus. All the three bus stations are grouped north of Harnet Avenue, not far from this church. I ask one of the locals where I can find the buses to Mendefera. He calls one of the children and orders him to bring me to the bus station. "Give him a few Nakfa's", the man advises me. There are no signs on the buses that indicate there destinations, so at the bus station, I just wait for the announcement "Mendefera, Mendefera, Mendefera" and try to locate the origin of the shouting.

Boys and girls of various ages try to sell handkerchiefs, coffee beans, watches, chewing gum, and other stuff to the passengers. I buy some biscuits for breakfast and share them with the passengers. A man with dark glasses enters the bus and starts to collect money. He is blind. Most of the passengers donate some coins. I think I should give him a little more. "Yekanyelay", thank you, he addresses me when I give him one of the many twenty Nakfa notes, I carry with me in my video bag.

When all the seats are occupied the bus leaves the bus station. The road to Mendefera is completely asphalted and does not remember me to the road of three years ago when I visited Mendefera for the fist time. The first twenty kilometers the bus descents the Asmara plateau, and than passes one of Eritrea's most fertile regions with a lot of agricultural activity. The trip takes a little less than two hours. In Mendefera the bus stops at a new build bus terminal.

Walking through Mendefera I see a mixture of modern and very traditional buildings. I remember there was a tank grave yard somewhere behind the Orthodox St. Ghiorgis Church. When I ask for the direction, a girl offers to bring me there. "What is your name, where do you come from?". I ask her name. "My name is Saba." When we approach the tank grave yard, it appears that it is not allowed to visit it. Like in Asmara there is a watch to turn out uninvited visitors.

So down we go and after having a coke, I climb the other hill, with the catholic church and school on top, to enjoy the view over this small town. Many churches are built on top of a hill. I assume it is the closest place to heaven. I visit the cereal market, the town circle, take the main road to the new regional office on the eastern side of the town and than in the opposite direction where I saw some kind of painting on the wall, when the bus entered Mendefera.

When I try to picture the painting, the local children do their best to make it a group photo. The school teacher sends them away, and explains the meaning of the painting. "It is the most important part of our history. It tells about the liberation, the referendum and our destiny." He too wants to know my nationality. The Dutch are popular in Eritrea, together with the Canadians being the first to serve as UNMEE peacekeepers. The teacher shows me the school compound. The children want me to picture them.

I visit some bars and try to find a snack bar to enjoy a lunch. The children peep through the opening of the iron door, but ran away when I point the camera in their direction. Walking back to the bus terminal I leave the main road and take the little alleys. Every once and a while little children appear and express their excitement or want to shake hands.

 

Little traditional house in Mendefera.

Little traditional house in Mendefera.

New build regional administration office of Mendefera.

New build regional administration office of Mendefera.

Beautifull Coptic church of Mendefera.

Beautiful Coptic church of St. Giorghis in Mendefera.

The painting on the wall telling the history of liberation.

The painting on the wall telling the history of liberation.

Saba, showing me the way to the tank grave yard of Mendefera.

Saba, showing me the way to the tank grave yard of Mendefera.

The cereal market of Mendefera.

The cereal market of Mendefera.

Blinded donkey at the cereal market.

Blinded donkey at the cereal market.

The main street of Mendefera.

The main street of Mendefera.

The little alleys of Mendefera on my way back to the bus station.

The little alleys of Mendefera on my way back to the bus station.

The little alleys of Mendefera on my way back to the bus station.

The little alleys of Mendefera on my way back to the bus station.

 

 
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