Tessenei Eritrea - October 14th 2003
Afraid to miss the 4:30 bus, I wake up every
time the cock cries. But the cock appears to react to every ray of light from
the head lights of the passing cars, so it wakes me up several times in the
middle of the night. At 4:00 I get up and so does Hansu. It is extremely dark
and the road is full of holes. She will accompany me to the bus station.
"Are you sure the bus will leave this early?".
When we are coming close to the bus station
she is convinced. The bus is testing its engine and oil is added where needed.
It is an old bus. Seat #1 is a kind of business class. No neighbor, good view on
the road. We leave at 5:40 and at 7:15 we already reach Agordat. At 8:50 we have
lunch (or is it breakfast?) and tea in Barentu.
During the trip, I share my provisions with
the other passengers. They point me to the interesting facts outside and when we
pass the little villages, they teach me some geography. I have to picture them
as well. The last stopover is Haykota at 11:10. One of
the locals pays for my coca cola. I react surprised and tell him I am a rich
tourist. "But Haykota is my home town, so you are my guest" he
Tessenei itself is a sober village. It is the
surroundings that make it worthwhile visiting., but you need a car. It takes
some time to find the Luna hotel, which is said to be the best hotel in town. It
is opposite to the new telecommunications office. I pass a small bar, where some
boys of the local football club invite me to drink coca cola with them. They ask
me to arrange shirts for them when I am back in Holland. They just started and
need some support.
I check in the Luna hotel and start
walking through the village. The climate is extremely
hot, so I decide to share a small taxi. Unfortunately the taxi leaves the
village and after 15 minutes I am in the middle of nowhere. I then realize it
was stupid to take a random taxi. He might just as well have taken me to Sudan,
which is just behind the hills. I ask the driver when he will return. He
tells me it was the last ride. Obviously he will try to hire the taxi for a
large amount of money to bring me back to Tessenei.
Then I see two large buses who have to stop
at the last checkpoint before Tessenei. I ask the driver if it is ok to join him
to Tessenei. It is ok. They even do not charge me anything. I insist he accepts
the ten Nakfa note to have a coke. The taxi would have charges me at least 30 Nakfa.
Back in Tessenei on the bus station, I do not
want to make the walk back to the hotel and taxi's are rare. There is at least
ten carts with donkeys waiting to bring the cargo carried in by the buses to
their final destination. I explain I want to use one of them to drive me to the
hotel. Although quite unusual, it gives me a good opportunity to make some
video. Unfortunately there is little objects of interest in the town itself.
In the telecommunications office I make a
call to Asmara. Proudly I tell Mebrat I made it to Tessenei and everything is
going fine. Late in the afternoon, I try to find a place to have some kind of
When I am eating my egg burger, I here the
sound of a whistle. Thinking it is a kind of alarm of one of the local police
men, I rise to see what is happening. To my surprise everyone is rising. All
stand still for a few minutes as a kind of tribute to the Eritrean flag they
strike at the local administration. The people next to me appreciate my perfect
reaction to the whistle, although it was pure luck that I reacted this way. I
can feel their thoughts. Even here I became part of the family.
Just before dawn I return to the hotel.
Unfortunately there is some kind of music shop in front of the hotel. The sound
of its music will keep me awake until 22:00.
4:30 in the morning at the Keren bus station - the bus to
Stopover in Haykota (between Barentu and
Woman grinding coffee in a little tea and coffee shop - Haykota Eritrea.
The passengers of the bus to Tessenei. "Why don't you picture us?".
Small village and landscape just before
Traditional dwelling - Tessenei Eritrea.
Curious mountain top - Tessenei Eritrea.
The landscape just before Tessenei Eritrea.
Luna hotel - the best hotel in Tessenei Eritrea.
The green banks of the Gash River -
Sundown on the banks of the Gash River -