Asmara Eritrea - September 26th 2002
Tomorrow there will be no time to do the goodbyes
or to buy the last souvenirs, so this Thursday is reserved to visit the family of
my wife and the last souvenir shops. Every visit will take at least two hours.
And where I come , I am invited to join the Eritrean coffee ceremony, to eat
some injera. There is all kinds of little
packages with berbere, roasted grains, atar and letters for my wife and friends
I decide to climb the bell tower of the Roman Catholic
Cathedral, to enjoy the view over Asmara for the last time this year. For just 10
the guide takes me to the top of the tall square bell tower. The reward at the top is
an unforgettable view over Asmara in all directions. In the little bookshop of the Roman
Catholic Cathedral they sell some nice religious printed materials, but it is the same
stuff as last year. At the bookshop at Meskerem Square I by some large EPLF flags for
only one dollar. I am quite sure there is a lot of people back home that will be very
happy with a gift like this.
Than I return to the covered markets. I still
did not find the girl I met last year. The other girls recognize me. "You
can picture us, if you give us a copy of the photo". That's a deal. I make some
pictures, drink tea with them and promise I will bring them
their copy of the pictures in the afternoon. I try to find a large piece of rope, to assemble
the next souvenirs to one manageable package. When I buy four drums, made of big
blue USA cans and goatskin, it is time return to Sembel. I need a taxi this
time. To much luggage for the bus. One of the guys at the covered market assists
me to hold a cab and to load the drums. But a few minutes later I understand
that this is not a free service. I act as if I do not understand, but the cab
driver gives the man a few Nakfa's and off we go.
In Sembel residence Tsega is a bit surprised to see all
the drums. "For what do you need so many drums?". I explain that that
both Mebrat and her daughter have asked me to bring them back home. They use
them to make music at Eritrean weddings in Holland. The transport of this curious luggage will not be easy,
but after Debre Bizen all other tasks look like a piece of cake.
I return to the city to say goodbye to the rest
of the family, to enjoy the fruit drinks and friendly smiles of the waitresses
and try to find some last souvenirs in the curio shops that sell all kinds of
Eritrean handicraft in Harnet Avenue. Wood carvings, posters, painted hides,
drums, crosses, injera baskets, necklaces and bracelets made of Red Sea shells
and other decorative items.
They sell some very nice paintings for less than 25 dollars, but there is a good
chance they will not survive my journey back home. Next year I will bring some
kind of plastic cylinder to transport the paintings.
It is the Eve of the the
feast of Meskel, the celebration of the finding of the true
cross. I enjoy the flaming hoyehoyes of the children, running on the streets of
Edaga Arbi with their torches made of dried twigs dipped in gasoline, singing
and trying to collect some money. For a few Nakfa's I am blessed for the second
time during my stay in Eritrea, by stepping across the burning torch. An
Eritrean man approaches me and askes me where I am going. "I am going to
visit my family". From the look on his face I can see he is doubting the
seriousness of my answer. But when I knock on the door of Saba and Senait, the
excited welcome words of the girls convince the man, and after a short greeting
he proceeded his way.
View on Harnet Avenue from the
bell tower of the Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Bell tower and Maria statue -
Abbot of the monastery - Asmara Eritrea .
The girls at the Asmara vegetable market.
Three children making a show in front of my camera.
Meskerem square with its book and souvenir shop.
Nda Mariam Coptic church
The children of Froyni and Haile
Haile and his daughter Jerusalem.
Froyni and two year old Moses.
Kahsay in his little studio broadcasting radio programs in eight languages.