Asmara - Keren - May 16th 2004
I wake up at 6:00, take my
daily ration of vitamin pills and the weekly malaria tablet. With clothes
and other necessities for five days, I leave to the Keren bus station, just behind the Kidane Mehret Church. Although there is many
to Keren every day, it is better to take an early bus, because of the
On my way to the bus station,
one of the military tries to stop me. There is a bicycle race in progress.
I cannot cross the street. I tell him I am on my way to the bus station.
He assists to cross the street without hindering the cyclists.
At the bus station I buy some
biscuits and a large bottle of mango juice for the two hour trip to Keren.
The boys that accompany the buses will vocally announce their
destination, that is either Keren, Agordat, Barentu, or one villages
between Asmara and Keren. Just to be sure I ask the passengers if the
destination is Keren. The answer is positive and some of the passengers
point to the back of the bus, to indicate the last free seats.
The bus is visited several
times by peddlers trying to sell household utensils, watches,
handkerchiefs, candy or chewing gum. When all the seats are occupied we
leave the bus station. The bus is slow, especially on the curved and
narrow road descending the escarpment of Asmara.
Halfway we have a brake at a
small restaurant. I order a fruit juice, imitating one of the other
passengers. He tells me I am his guest, he will pay the drink. I object,
but before I can draw my walled he paid the 10 Nakfa for the two
I told Afeworki not to wait
for me at the bus station. I know my way to his house. First I will visit
Elen and her two daughters, Rahel and Hidat. I am lucky. Rahel tells me
there will be a wedding tonight and I HAVE to come. I am their special
guest. One of the relatives of the Bridegroom is from Holland. She will
introduce me to him.
I spend the rest of the day
walking through Keren, climbing the hills for beautiful views and visiting
some friends, the family and the neighbors of Afworki and Hansu. When I
tell Hansu that I am invited for the wedding, she is a bit worried, afraid
I will get lost in the dark. "I will ask Bereket to pick you up at
11:00 PM". There is a second wedding close to Hansu and Afworki's
house in a tent.
But I prefer the invitation of
Elen and her daughters. They are so enthusiast every time I visit them. At
19:00 PM I am in the restaurant, where the many guest are waiting for the
arrival of the bride and bridegroom. It is still hot, and I prefer to join
the guests sitting in the garden behind the restaurant.
I discuss the peace process with some
intellectuals. They tell me that peace with Eritrea will destabilize
Ethiopia, where many ethnical groups are waiting to start their own war of
liberation to reverse the history of Ethiopia's imperialism. So making war
is Ethiopia's style of "nation building".
The high temperatures at daytime and
the ambiance are a good reason to have some beers. As I expected Rahel and
me to dance. Women are handclapping to the music. We dance and have fun all the
At 23:00 I watch outside to
see if Bereket came to collect me. Not a sign of Hansu's nephew. So I I
rejoin the party, where the beers are finished. But Rahel organizes a
couple of beers from her private stock to slake the poor tourist' thirst.
When it is midnight, I have to
choose. Bereket did not show up, and it is dark, very dark. Even the moon
went down. The road to
the house is dangerous and surrounded by many grooves cut into the
landscape in the rainy season. I can also stay at the party until it is
finished, but what will be Hansu's thoughts if I do not show up?
to take the chance and I walk in the direction of the house, using the
flashlight of my camera every once an a while to get a fast impression of
the surrounding area to be sure of not losing my way. Very careful, to
reduce the risk of a disabling fall or an unpleasant meeting with a group
I am lucky. Only one
time I slip into a groove, without getting hurt. The sound of the music of
the other wedding is my guide to find the house. Hansu apologizes for the
fact that her nephew has forgotten to pick me up. But she is proud of me
that I found my way to her house in the complete dark.
Cycle racing - Asmara
Selling household utensils
in the Asmara - Keren bus.
Neighbors of Hansu and
Afeworki in their grocery shop - Keren Eritrea.
View on Keren from one of the
Albergo Sicilia - Keren
Bride and bridegroom at the
wedding in Keren Eritrea.
The buffet at the wedding in
Dancing at the wedding in
The wedding cake at the wedding in
The band at the wedding in