Agordat Eritrea - May 18th 2004
Using the animals of Keren as an
alarm clock, I wake up at 5:30. I eat some bread and drink tea with Hansu. I
tell her that I will try to go to Agordat and Barentu. I will be gone two
nights, maybe three. Have to think of the celebrations in Asmara
At 6:15 I am at the bus station. I
am lucky. I have one of the last seats of a modern 30 seats Toyota bus.
"Barentu, Barentu!" A boy is directing the last passengers to the bus.
Again the passengers rearrange the seats, so a will have a better one.
Just before Agordat I have to leave
the bus at the checkpoint. I am guided into a small office by the military. The
permit is not valid for Barentu. I have to leave the bus to stay in Agordat. The
Toyota bus leaves without me. I have to walk the last two kilometers to Agordat.
I need to find a better hotel this
time. I follow the advice of the Bradt Travel Guide for Eritrea "In the
center of Agordat is the hotel B. G. Selassie or Belamberas, which is
favorite amongst most travellers owing to the more than affable owner, Almaz.
She is sure to look after your every need and will make you feel more at
home than in any other place in Eritrea." I leave my luggage with Almaz and
take a shower, before I start to walk through Agordat.
When I walk to the catholic
church two men invite me to drink tea with them. They ask a lot of
questions, want to know everything. I am very close to the police station.
Would that be the reason of their curiosity? Are they trying to catch
I walk to the banks of the
Barka river. Some local women react spontaneously. That tourist must be
walking in the wrong direction, or he is lost. I explain I am going to the
river. It is ok. The river is easily found. It is bordered by an unusual
green nature, with many, many birds in various colors.
I follow the river for a few
hundred meters. It is too hot to make a long walk. I change directions to
go back to Agordat. A man in a Toyota pickup asks me where I am going.
When a donkey cart passes, I share the seat next to the driver. After a
short ride I have to get off. I get a lift of another Toyota pickup. On
the back of the car I return to Agordat. When I recognize a familiar
place, I ask the driver to stop.
I drink a few cups of tea at one
of the tea shops. Then I am called to have tea with a group of people
sitting a bit further. Most of them are military. They explain to me that
the lady, who is selling the tea, wants me to marry her. Hiwet does not
speak any English, so the military function as an interpreter.
I explain to them that I
already have a lovely Eritrean wife. They are surprise and they want to
know if Mebrat has teached me some Tigrinya. I try to count to ten, and
mention all the animals in Tigrinya. "Who not take two wives, one in
Holland and one in Eritrea", they suggest. I explain to the military that I don't
think Mebrat will agree with these kind of souvenirs.
Other military, attracted by
the conversation, have joined us. I order eight cups of tea for the whole
group. Hiwet asks why I do not buy her a cup of tea. Good question. Why
did I forget to buy her tea? She asks me to come back at 5:00 PM. I will
not accept the invitation. I do not want to give here any false hope.
I continue my walk, slow and
in the shade if possible. When I climb the hill to the Agordat
administration, the military do not allow my to make more pictures. I
pictured the administration at least five times this morning, so I climb
the other hill to the Agordat hospital to make pictures.
Children are following me
everywhere. I try to ignore them. Shopkeepers want to know my nationality
and what I think about Agordat. Well, Agordat is nice, cozy, and friendly.
Like every other Eritrean town it is perfectly safe to walk. But being one
of the very few tourists, I am a peculiarity for the children. And the
town is so hot. There is a strong breeze, but it is a hot one, sometimes
increasing to a small sand storm.
Agordat is a small village, so
just by coincidence I pass the market, and Hiwets tea shop around 5:00 PM.
She is enthusiast. I try to create a large group by buying the military
cups of tea. But they pay my tea instead. When I continue my walk Hiwet
follows me and talks to me in Tigrinya. It is impossible to give any response
if I do not understand what she's saying.
I use to judge the restaurants
by observing what the local people are eating. If it looks good, I just
order the same for diner. A salad and scrambled eggs. When I point the camera at one
of the girls that is preparing my salad, she presents herself as the brave
At the bus station men are
decorating a camel with illumination for Independence Day. It will be dark
soon, so I return to the hotel of Almaz. She is standing in the door
opening, a bit worried because I was out all day. I think she expected me
to take some rest in this heat.
Almaz and her sister make
Eritrean coffee. I am one of the two guests. The other one is not in, so
it is a small group. Almaz likes to talk. She is running the hotel with
her sister. One brother in Asmara and one in Canada. The guests of the hotel and the birds are Almaz' children.
Almaz returned to Agordat ten years ago to convert her family home into a
charming, clean and quiet hotel.
Almaz filled the fridge
with a lot of drinks. After taking a shower (the water should be cold,
but is heated by the sun), I drink a few beers with her. I hope it will
help me to sleep.
Bar and restaurant - Agordat Eritrea.
Market for fire wood -
Local children - Agordat Eritrea.
Small traditional dwelling on the
banks of the Barka river - Agordat Eritrea.
Old man in traditional
clothes - Agordat Eritrea.
Bedfort truck - Agordat Eritrea.
Covered market - Agordat
Grande mosque - Agordat Eritrea.
Covered market - Agordat Eritrea.
Brave kitchen kitten - Agordat Eritrea.