Asmara Eritrea - May 9th 2003
The first day in Asmara will be for the
family and the friends of my wife. I will deliver the letters and the presents.
From Terhas house I walk to the old Sembel village to enjoy the feel of being in
Eritrea, to challenge the adventure, trying to meet new people.
The children of Sembel want to shake hands.
The older people are surprised to see a tourist in this area. When I reach the
street where Yordanos and Feshaye have their little house and grocery shop, the
children recognize me from previous visits and hurry to warn their neighbors
that I am coming.
In no time I am surrounded by children who
all want a hug. And a present of course. Feshaye is the only one who speaks good
English. His mother tries to ask me some questions in Tigrinya, but even after
five visits to Eritrea, I do not understand anything of her words. She tries
some Italian. Again I have to disappoint her.
We drink Eritrean coffee and I am invited to
have lunch. I promise them I will visit them later to have lunch. There is so
many people to visit. Alana, Yordanos and Feshayes
daughter, walks with me to the bus stop, where I will take the bus to the center
In their small - one room - house just behind
Harnet Avenue, the main street of Asmara, I am going to meet Haile and Freweini.
We drink tea and I try to start a conversation with Freweini. Haile is at his
work. She hardly speaks any English, nor do the children, so I have to wait for
Michael, her oldest son to return from school.
I tell him I need his assistance to find a
grave. He does not understand. Why does his uncle need to visit a grave? I
explain to him that it is for people in the USA, whose uncle died some year ago.
They were not informed and therefore have no knowledge of the place where their
relative is buried.
Michael will help me with the inquiries. He is so happy with the money from the
US I give him to do the job. But he immediately hands it over to his mother to
add it to the family budget.
Next visit is the housing bank. I will try to
meet the brother of Mebrats girlfriend. I expected this to be a difficult task.
The housing bank is guarded. Men with machine guns ask me what I want. I show
them the name and the telephone number. I have to wait. After a few minutes
Kibreab comes out. A friendly young men. He invites me to have some coffee in
the Damera bar.
In the Damera bar the people recognize me. I
have to shake a lot of hands. The girls welcome me with their lovely smiles.
They still hide when I point the camera at them. But they do not mind I tease
them. "We started a pension just above the café, please mention it in your
story", the owner tells me. He hands me some flyers of
his pension. Looks good:
Center of Asmara, nice rooms, only 8 dollars per night.
"You know more people then I do",
Kibreab addresses me. I am proud. I feel at home from this very first day.
Kibreab takes me back to the bank to show me his office. He insists I will
have lunch with him one time. I promise I will call him. We exchange e-mail
addresses and I hurry to the next house, another girl friend of Mebrat.
Gebrehiwot and Zewdi have a beautiful house
opposite to Cinema Roma. They tell me they have been
looking for me last September. Should have visited them more often. Before I realize
there is a complete meal waiting for me. And when Gebrehiwot comes home from his
work I have to eat again with him. He insists I have
some whisky. Yerusalem, the oldest daughter tells me her parents would be
honored if I would stay a few nights with them. I promise to visit them around
May 24th, when there will be a lot of fun on Harnet Avenue.
From Gebrehiwots house I walk to City
Internet Cafe to deliver a large package from Holland. The girls are surprised
and very happy I took the trouble to take the package all the way from their
families in Rotterdam. I have to make an appointment to have lunch in their
house. I show them some of my stories on the internet. They are even more
surprised. "In a few months you will see my pictures of you" I promise
Finally I visit Gorzite, Mebrats sister, and
Selamawit in Edaga Arbi. It is getting dark and it is difficult to recognize the
numbers on the house. But there is a lot of people willing to help me to find
the address. We have tea. Selamawit speaks good English, But Gorzite does not
and she is shy. I am not supposed to make any video or pictures. She first wants
to do her hair and change clothes. I tell her I will not stay long. We will do
the pictures next time. I tell them I will visit Hadgembes in Assab. They Are
surprised. "You will go all the way to Assab?". When I tell them I
will go by bus they are even more surprised. They ask me to come back next
Monday to pick up a letter for their brother before I leave.
Number 9 bus to the Sembel village.
Sembel village - Asmara Eritrea.
Manufacturing bricks to build a new house - Sembel village.
Sembel village - Asmara Eritrea.
Children playing on the streets of Sembel village - Asmara Eritrea.
Alana babysitting her seven months old brother - Sembel Village.
The girls of the Damera Bar - Asmara Eritrea.
Gebrehiwots daughters Yerusalem and Luwam.
City internet Cafe - Asmara Eritrea.
Selamawit and her baby Delina Daniel - Edaga Arbi Asmara.