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Eritrea May 2004
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May 2004 - Celebrating the
13th anniversary of Eritrea
 
 

Asmara Eritrea - May 14th 2004

 

The first day is always reserved for the visits to friends and relatives. I brought 10 kilos of frozen cow butter as a gift and lots of toys and clothes. Packed like a donkey I start walking the three kilometers to Yordanos and Feshaye, who live nearby in old Sembel in the house of Mebrat Mother Tzehaitu. I is a lot easier to take a taxi, but walking means breathing Eritrea. The people, nature, the sun.

A few hundred meters from their house I meet Yordanos. I would have missed her if a had taken a taxi. She is so glad to see me, and greets me the typical Eritrean way: facing each other, bumping the right shoulder three times. We walk to the house. Yordanos only speaks a few words English. Feshaye will translate the conversation with the family. Yordanos boils Eritrean coffee, accompanied by popcorn, biscuits and sweeties.

I will go to the center of Asmara with Alana to buy her some new clothes. Alana has a special place in my heart. I have been searching for a nice present in Rotterdam, but the chance it does not fit and the adventure of buying it in Asmara are a good reason to do some local shopping. Feshaye will join us to avoid communication problems and to negotiate a good prices. Behind the grand mosque there is a lot of small shops selling clothes for a good price. For 370 Nakfa we buy her a complete jeans suite plus a sweater.

The rest of the day I will visit the other families in various parts of Asmara. When I visit Zewdi and Gebrehiwot, they tell me that my bed is waiting for me in their house, just like I left it in October 2003. But I will leave Asmara in a few days. I am welcome whenever I want to come to their house and promise I will stay with them when the celebrations around Independence Day will take place.

On May 19th the Eritreans will choose their local representatives for the government. These representatives will then choose the national parliament later this year. Posters of the candidates stick to every building in Asmara, all with a picture and a short history of their carreer.

In the small office of the Ministry of Tourism next to the Sweet Asmara Caffee, I arrange a permit for foreign travellers. I receive a permit for Adi Quala, Assab, Agordat and Debre Sina. It is not possible to visit Barentu and Kieru. When I ask for the reason, the answer is "too dangerous". They do not tell me, but I may assume it has something to do with the Ethiopian tradition to disturb the celebrations of Independence Day.

At the Eritrean Airlines office I buy a ticket to Assab for May 26th, the first flight after the celebrations and one week before the flight to Amsterdam. I will do the trip from Assab to Massawa by bus in two days, so one week must be sufficient to return in time.

Finally I visit the Medeber markets. Girls remember me and ask for the pictures I made in October last year. I explain it is a digital camera. No hard copies. Next time I should bring them a copy. As a small present and a sign that I did not forget them.

 

Feshaye reading the letters from Holland to his mother.

Feshaye reading the letters from Holland to his mother.

Small clothes shop behind the grand mosque - Asmara Eritrea.

Small clothes shop behind the grand mosque - Asmara Eritrea.

My little niece Alana fitting her jeans.

My little niece Alana fitting her jeans.

Member of the Asmara police on Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Member of the Asmara police on Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated shop window - 13th anniversary of Eritrean independence.

Decorated shop window - 13th anniversary of Eritrean independence.

One of the posters for the local elections on May 19th 2004.

One of the posters for the local elections on May 19th 2004.

Asmara High Court on Harnet Avenue.

Asmara High Court on Harnet Avenue.

Drinking Eritrean coffee with Zewdi and her mother in law.

Eritrean coffee ceremony with Zewdi and her mother in law.

Meaza at the office of the Ministry of Tourism in Harnet Avenue.

Meaza at the office of the Ministry of Tourism in Harnet Avenue.

The girls in their Medeber workshop.

The girls in their Medeber workshop.

 

 
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