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2003 - Part of the family
 
 

The trip to Assab - May 15th 2003

 

At 4:30 we have to get up and at 5:00 we leave Edi. Notwithstanding the poor conditions in the hotel I had a good nights rest. Most of the other passengers of the bus try to get some extra sleep. When we approach Assab the landscape is dominated by black volcanic mountains. In the Red Sea that appears alongside the road every once and a while, volcanic islands rise from the sea.

At the last checkpoint before Assab the bus need some last repairs. The bottom must have been hit by a rock driving to Edi last night. The engineer of the bus tries to straighten the part. The passengers refresh themselves with the water from the big jerry can in front of the bus. I try to do the same, sitting next to the road with the other passengers. I am adapting fast to these circumstances, and my interaction with the group is appreciated.

The passengers ask what I will do in Assab. Proud I show them the letters I received from friends in Holland (Naval base Assab) and the family in Edaga Arbi (Eritrean Defense Forces, Assab). "You are an Eritrean!". The passengers of the bus complement me on the fact I have the courage to travel 800 kilometers to visit the family of my wife, who is serving the Eritrean Defence Forces.

At 8:00 we arrive in Assab. My fear to be lost in the middle of nowhere, 800 kilometers from Asmara, is wrong. Both the brother of my wife, Hadgembes, and Tekie, the brother of Feshaye (with his taxi!) are waiting for the bus. Hadgembes tells me they have been to the airport as well, because they did not expect I would make the trip by bus.

After checking in in the Assab Pension, and a cold shower, I get a sight seeing through Assab. We visit the higher grounds to watch over Assab, the port and the beach, where we have a drink. We visit the Ras Gombo Beach Hotel. Although it is not better than the Assab Pension, I would have preferred this Hotel. It is close to the beach and the breeze from the sea makes it a more peasant place to stay.

At noon Tekie will resume his usual job as a taxi driver and I walk through Assab with Hadgembes. Large parts of the town are deserted. 50% of the people of Assab were of Ethiopian origin and have left the town after the recent war. We have lunch in one of the many restaurants and have some rest. It is too hot to walk anyway.

Later in the afternoon we resume our walk. Hadgembes takes me to Campo Sudan, an area in Assab with rather poor wooden houses. Three women sit in front of their house eating injera. When we pass them, one of them starts feeding me the injera. I accept their hospitality, although I realize it is risky in this heat. They want us to have a drink with them. Hadgembes refuses.

When we are out of sight, I ask Hadgembes why we did not have a drink with the ladies. He does not answer the question. So I have to guess. Where they whores, or Ethiopians, or both? Assab is a port. And there is a lot of poverty in this area. Every once and a while a poor beggar comes to us, to ask a few Nakfa's. Hadgembes asks them to leave. We eat injera with shiro, a chick pea stew. I do not have the courage to eat any meat in this heat.

I drink a lot of arakis, hoping the mosquitoes will not drink my blood. I agreed with Hadgembes he would sleep in the other bed, but suddenly he is gone and does not return. I cannot lock the door as long as he is not coming back. I wonder what happened. Maybe the owner of the hotel does not allow a second guest.

During my next visit in October 2003 I will hear he has been picked up by the military. He had permission to leave his job in the morning, but choose not to go back to the military, but stay with me instead.

 

The black mountains surrounding Assab Eritrea.

The black landscape surrounding Assab Eritrea.

The black mountains surrounding Assab Eritrea.

Doum palms around Assab Eritrea.

Assab pension - budget hotel.

Assab pension - budget hotel.

Public transport in and arround Assab.

Public transport in and around Assab.

Mosque in the center of Assab.

Mosque in the center of Assab.

Red Sea beach - Assab Eritrea.

Red Sea beach - Assab Eritrea.

View over Assab from one of the hills.

View over Assab from one of the hills.

Assab town circle.

Assab town circle.

Zeray Deres Hotel - Assab Eritrea.

Zeray Deres Hotel - Assab Eritrea.

Kebal International Hotel - Assab Eritrea.

Kebal International Hotel - Assab Eritrea.

 

 
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