Asmara Eritrea - May 10th 2003
Yesterday I did not have the chance to visit
Mebrats mother, so I return to Sembel Village to greet her. Feshaye will bring
me to Kushet, a new village not far from Asmara (Space 2001). We walk through
the village where workers are constructing houses, roads and other infra structure.
We pass a house where women are preparing a
wedding. We have to come in and try the suwa. It is the first time I can observe
the production of this traditional drink. They bake bread until it is very dark,
break it into pieces and leave it in water for seven days to ferment. I will try
to make it myself when I am back in Holland.
The women beat the drums and start to sing. I
can visit the wedding if I want. I will be in Assab by that time. Going back
from Kushet to Asmara is a bit of a problem. The mini buses are very very
crowded and when it stops the people run for it. And there is no taxi to see.
But I am lucky. When the next bus arrives, I can change places with the man in
front. I feel guilty. People are actually giving up their nice position in the
bus to please a tourist.
From the last stop of the minibus near the
Expo grounds, I walk to the Corea Housing Complex to collect the last packages
that are left to be delivered. To save time and afraid the packages will be
crushed in the crowded bus, I decide to take a taxi. As usual I ask the driver
how much he will charge me. "You can make your own price." The answer
comes quite unexpected. Should I refuse to take this taxi because the driver is
not going to give me a fixed price. I decide to give him 30 Nakfa, whatever
happens. It must be a good price. The driver is very friendly and helpful to
deliver me at the correct address. I give the 30 Nakfa. No comments. It assume
it is ok.
We drink tea with pastry and I make
arrangements, so that the last package will be collected from this address. It
is some medicines from Holland with just a name and a telephone number. I do not
speak Tigrinya, so I leave it to the family here to make an appointment.
Although I do not understand the conversation by phone, I am quite sure the
medicine will reach their destination, just from the tone of the conversation.
Everyone I meet is friendly, helpful and honest. All my worrying about these
deliveries does not make any sense.
I walk to the railway station. Want to make
the trip by train to Massawa. From the manager I understand there is no time
table. If I want to make the trip, I will have to charter the train, which will
be quite expensive if I am the only passenger. I ask him if he can try to add me
to any group that will charter the train during my stay in Eritrea and leave my
telephone number. In the bar on the railway depot I have an egg burger and some
drinks for lunch.
On my way back to the center it starts to
rain cats and dogs. I hurry into the first café I can find to wait until the
rain stops. The streets of Asmara look like little rivers. The water is running
rapidly to lower grounds. When the rain stops I resume my walk. Someone calls me
back. "Sir, sir, you forgot your bag." I left the (now empty) bag I
used to transport the packages in the café. In my home town it would be lost,
but in Asmara the people make sure it is returned to the owner, if possible.
I cannot go to the wedding with my dirty
shoes, so I try find a shoe-shiner. Most of them are gone, because of the heavy
rains. But I manage to find a little boy who is happy to have a customer. He
does his very best to bring my shoes in a perfect condition. The price for the
job usually is one or two Nakfa. I give him ten, to reward the fact that he is
working for the money instead of begging.
The wedding is in Kahawta. The road in this
part of Asmara are rough and not easy to drive. We have to pay extra for the
taxi. But with four adults and four children as passengers, we cannot expect to
bargain a nice price. Feshaye makes a deal with the driver that he will come
back at 23:00 to bring us back to Sembel.
The best seat is reserved for the guest from
Holland. I feel guilty. Very old men and women sit on small wooden stools. My
offer to change places is refused. They even prepared special food for me with
less chilly, which results in the moral obligation to eat it all. They did not
have to do that, I am used to the Eritrean food.
And I have to try the suwa. My wife always
warned not to drink the suwa, because the way it is produced does not match our
standards of hygiene. But I never had problems with it, so I drink suwa with the
men. Just after eight a power failure in Kahawta results in complete darkness.
Candles have to light the the tent for one hour. Fortunately electricity is back
when the band arrives, and there is music and dance.
At 23:00 sharp the taxi driver arrives, but
Feshaye tries to convince him to wait and enjoy the festivities. He does. When
he asks me why I do not dance I borrow some cloth from one of the women and
dance with the crowd, using the cloth to stabilize the video camera against my
body. Around midnight we go back to the house of Feshaye and Yordanos. They
prepared the best bed for me in their small house, and they must sleep somewhere
on the floor. During the night I am disturbed by all kinds of sounds on the
roof. It must be either cats or birds, walking on the corrugated iron.
The road to Kushet - passing another recent
Space 2001 - Asmara Eritrea
New build residential building - Kushet -
Digging through the solid soil in Kushet -
Construction activities in Kushet
Women making suwa for the wedding in Kushet
Women making suwa for the wedding in Kushet
- Asmara .
Women preparing for the wedding in Kushet
- Asmara .
Bisrat, youngest sister of Yordanos at the eve of
the wedding in Kahawta.
Power failure at the eve of the wedding in
Dancing on the beat of the drums at the eve
of the wedding.