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
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
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.
Small clothes shop behind
the grand mosque - Asmara Eritrea.
My little niece Alana fitting her
Member of the Asmara police on
Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.
Decorated shop window - 13th
anniversary of Eritrean independence.
One of the posters for the local
elections on May 19th 2004.
Asmara High Court on Harnet Avenue.
Eritrean coffee ceremony with Zewdi and her mother in law.
Meaza at the office of the
Ministry of Tourism in Harnet Avenue.
The girls in their Medeber