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Eritrea May 2004
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May 2004 - Celebrating the
13th anniversary of Eritrea
 
 

Agordat Eritrea - May 19th 2004

 

Today there will be local elections in all Eritrean towns. Small posters of the local candidates are pasted to almost every building. Almaz tells me that she expects most shops in Agordat will be closed. I ask her a large bottle of mineral water. I use half a bottle to compensate the sweating of tonight and mix it with the vitamins. With the other half I start the climb of the last hill indicating "Forto" in the Bradt Travel Guide of Eritrea. From below, I can only see the obelisk, a monument to the Italians killed during WW2.

When I reach the top of the hill, I realize I am not a very welcome guest. A member of the Eritrean military is guarding the place. It is not only a historical site, but also a point of strategic interest, hosting a telecommunications post. In a language that I cannot understand he addresses a few words to me. Although I do not understand their meaning, I assume it is "Get the hell out of here!" And so I do, afraid he will change his mind to start a more thorough investigation.

When I am down, I run into Almaz, who will do some shopping. Since I do  not have anything else to do, I accompany her for half an hour, following her to the local butcher and the market. She suggests I visit the roof of the hospital to have a good view over the Barka river and Agordat.

I follow her advise, but do not forget to ask permission to go to the roof, that is also used as a bedroom for some of the maintenance personnel. They are surprised to see me, but it is ok. looking down I see the many traditional houses, surrounded by Akat trees and Doum Palms.

I pass the office were the people of Agordat vote for their local government. Hundreds of colorful women and men in white clothes wait patiently. The police is keeping an eye on the crowd and on passing tourists trying to make a picture.

I return to the hotel. Almaz makes traditional Eritrean style coffee. Seven cups. She attracts the birds to us with some popcorn. We eat kitcha. She shows me the beauty of the nests that the birds made in her garden. I feel sorry for not bringing a small gift for Almaz. I did not expect a hotel owner to treat you like you're family. Searching through my luggage, the only thing I can find as a gift is my most beautiful pencil. I promise her to return to her hotel next time I visit Eritrea.

At the bus station I have bad luck. The bus is just leaving, and there will be only a few buses leaving Agordat today, because of the elections. Local children are begging for a pencil or some Nakfa's. After two hours the small Toyota mini bus has enough passengers to leave to Keren.

When we leave Agordat there is another thorough passport check. Before entering Keren I have to show my passport another two times. Check, check, double check.

In Keren I have lunch with Elen and her daughters. They invite me to join them to voting office, and so I do. A lot of people know me by now in Keren, so nobody minds when I intermingle with the crowd waiting to vote. Quite different from Agordat, where the police politely asked me to move a few blocks.

Suddenly I observe Hansu and Afworki in the crowd. They are surprised that I am back so soon. I tell them the road to Barentu is closed for foreigners, so I had to shorten the trip to the western parts of Eritrea.

Rahel asks me to come with them to their restaurant to drink some beers, but soon it will be dark, so I choose to go back with Hansu and Afworki instead. I have not forgotten the search for Afworki's house a few nights ago. In the grocery shop I buy a large bottle of mineral water, and visit friends, neighbors and family to say goodbye Tomorrow I will return to Asmara.

 

Hotel B. G. Selassie or Belamberas - Agordat Eritrea.

Hotel B. G. Selassie or Belamberas - Agordat Eritrea.

View over the banks of the Barka river - Agordat Eritrea.

View over the banks of the Barka river - Agordat Eritrea.

View over  Agordat Eritrea.

View over  Agordat Eritrea.

Poster for one of the kandidates of the local elections - Agordat Eritrea.

Poster for one of the kandidates of the local elections - Agordat Eritrea.

Local elections - Agordat Eritrea.

Local elections - Agordat Eritrea.

Bar and restaurant - Agordat Eritrea.

Bar and restaurant - Agordat Eritrea.

Almaz, owner of Hotel B. G. Selassie or Belamberas - Agordat Eritrea.

Almaz, owner of Hotel B. G. Selassie or Belamberas - Agordat Eritrea.

Even the birds feel at ease on Almaz' hotel compound.

Even the birds feel at ease on Almaz' hotel compound.

Celebrating May 24th 2004 - Agordat Eritrea.

Celebrating May 24th 2004 - Agordat Eritrea.

Small grocery shop - Agordat Eritrea.

Small grocery shop - Agordat Eritrea.

 

 
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