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
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.
The sanctuary of Our Lady
Mariam Dearit in a huge,
more than 500 years old baobab tree - Keren Eritrea.
Small traditional dwelling -
Camels resting in the sun - Keren
Medeber, welding automobile
scrap into agricultural implements.
Small scale trade on the streets
of Keren Eritrea.
One of the numerous jeweler
shops in Keren Eritrea.
Fruit and vegetable market -
Street life - Keren Eritrea.
Little girl in traditional
clothes - Keren Eritrea.