Massawa Eritrea - October 23rd 2003
With a small new Toyota mini bus I leave to
Massawa at 7:00. (You have to be prepared to pay some extra Nakfa's for the
luxury but it is worth it). The temperature is rising fast as we decent from
2400m to sea level. The bottle of mineral water proves to be useful. Without one
stopover we reach Massawa at 10:00.
At the Massawa bus station I take a small Toyota
bus (shared taxi) that will bring me to the Dahlak hotel. Walking is not
impossible, but the taxi is an adventure itself. Never knew so many people could
hide in one van. Helps you to get familiar with the people. If you prefer your
own taxi "contract", you will pay some 20 to 40 Nakfa for the same
ride. I prefer the fast, but crowded solution. Most private taxi's will wait
next to the telecommunications office, so if you are on any other spot, you need
some luck to find one.
The Dahlak hotel is my favorite hotel in
Massawa. It is not the best, but it is good, has a terrace that overlooks a bay (resulting in a cool breeze) and from the roof of the hotel you have an excellent
view over the port. And last but not least, it is strategically centered between
the old city and the mainland on the edge of the middle island of Massawa,
I make some pictures from the roof of the
Dahlak hotel and than walk to the old port area. 50% of the area is teared down,
because many of the residential buildings suffered to much from the war of
liberation. Most of the other housing complexes are carefully renovated. Women
sit on small stools outside their homes making suwa or coffee. More than once I am invited
to join them to drink some coffee. I will spend three days in Massawa, so there
is time enough to chat with the women (but be careful, the port district also is
the base of many prostitutes in Massawa).
Young children beg for a Nakfa, and older
ones want to be my friend. Most of them dream of a good future in the US, Canada
or Europe, but they need a "friend" to help them. "He my friend,
where do you come from? Are you a tourist or did you arrive with one of the
ships?" Some of them want me to follow them to their house. Not sure of
their intentions, I choose to ignore them or tell them I have no time. It is
safer to sit with the women on the street.
It looks like the whole neighborhood is
making suwa today. The women bake stone-hard, slightly burned pancakes, break
them into pieces and than boil the product. After fermentation the product
contains some alcohol.
Dahlak Hotel - Massawa Eritrea.
Construction of the Dahlak Hotel
extensions - Massawa Eritrea.
Renovated traditional houses - Massawa Eritrea.
Small alley - Massawa Eritrea.
Women boiling Eritrean coffee - Massawa Eritrea.
"Se'alena, se'alena" (picture us) - Massawa Eritrea.
Woman making suwa - Massawa Eritrea.
Traditional housing under renovation - Massawa Eritrea.
Grande mosque - Massawa Eritrea.
Old and new housing - Massawa Eritrea.
Traditional housing - Massawa Eritrea.