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May 2004 - Celebrating the
13th anniversary of Eritrea
 
 

Keren Eritrea - May 17th 2004

 

The wedding party near the house of Hansu and Afworki kept me awake until long after midnight. Some stupid cocks wake me up at 5:30. At 6:00 donkeys, dogs and many other animals join the concert and make it impossible to finish my night rest.

So I get dressed and Hansu  makes me a breakfast with eggs, bread and tea. I walk to the house of Gebre Woldu and his family. We drink tea again. Gebre will accompany me to the livestock market and Mariam Dearit, a two kilometer walk from Keren.

The livestock marked is a weekly event on Mondays. in a walled compound on a hillside in the outskirts of Keren. Cattle, sheep and goats are bought and sold in the upper part of the compound, and camels and donkeys in the lower part. Ropes and related stuff are sold to facilitate easy transport of the animals. 

It is quiet at the compound of Mariam Dearit. On May 29th there will be the yearly festival. My trip to Assab will make it impossible to visit the event. We walk around the compound and buy a drink in the souvenir shop, not far from the shrine in the boabab tree.

We walk back to Keren, visiting the Medeber workshops. Just like Medeber in Asmara, scrap is welded into all kinds of useful tools. We drink tea in one of the workshops with friends of Gebre.

At the covered market I buy myself a new cap. Could not find my cap this morning. Think I left it in one of the bars. But you absolutely need one to protect yourself against the sun. For 35 Nakfa I have a Chinese imitation of a Nike cap.

Gebre will do some shopping and I will spend the rest of the day walking through Keren. Actually it is to hot to walk, so I organize myself a few tours by taking random mini buses (and back). There is seven destinations within Keren, so for only 14 Nakfa (one dollar!) I visit all parts of Keren. Of course I have to share the bus with many local people, but that is part of the adventure. People change seats to give me a better seat. I feel guilty, but on the other hand I feel so welcome as a tourist.

In the Keren hotel I order bread with an omelet and a few glasses of milk. It is too hot for a more extensive lunch. Actually I am only thirsty, but I am sure the body needs more than liquids only.

When I pass the center of Keren where merchants have exposed their merchandize on the street, one of them invites me to drink tea with him. He only speaks Italian, which makes it difficult to start a conversation. But with the help of some of his neighbors we can communicate.

The people that are passing are making jokes about the tourist being part of the merchandize. I do not understand the Tigrinya, but I do understand the merchant is proud to have the tourist as his guest.

Passing the vegetable market again, one of the girls invites me to eat a guava. It is risky to eat it, but I consider it rude to refuse the fruit, and she does her best to clean it with some water. I will drink an araki (strong alcoholic drink) to kill the bacteria.

When I am back at Hansu's house she apologizes for not giving me a key to the house, so I could have some sleep. Almost everyone takes some hours of rest or sleep around noon. I explain to her that my stay in Keren is too short, so there is no need to sleep in the daytime.

Hansu makes me some injera with shuro. She wanted me to eat chicken, but, unwilling to eat meat in this climate, I tell everyone I am a vegetarian. 

 

Livestock market pictured from the tea shop - Keren Eritrea.

Livestock market pictured from the tea shop - Keren Eritrea.

The sanctuary of Our Lady Mariam Dearit in a huge,  more than 500 years old baabab tree - Keren Eritrea.

The sanctuary of Our Lady Mariam Dearit in a huge,
 more than 500 years old baobab tree - Keren Eritrea.

Small traditional dwelling - Keren Eritrea.

Small traditional dwelling - Keren Eritrea.

Camels resting in the sun - Keren Eritrea.

Camels resting in the sun - Keren Eritrea.

Medeber, welding automobile scrap into agricultural implements.

Medeber, welding automobile scrap into agricultural implements.

Small scale trade on the streets of Keren Eritrea.

Small scale trade on the streets of Keren Eritrea.

One of the numerous jeweler shops in Keren Eritrea.

One of the numerous jeweler shops in Keren Eritrea.

Fruit and vegetable market - Keren Eritrea.

Fruit and vegetable market - Keren Eritrea.

Street life - Keren Eritrea.

Street life - Keren Eritrea.

Little girl in traditional clothes - Keren Eritrea.

Little girl in traditional clothes - Keren Eritrea.

 

 
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