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May 2004 - Celebrating the
13th anniversary of Eritrea
 
 

Adi Quala and back to Asmara - May 21th 2004

 

I wake op at 6 o'clock, get dressed, drink some mineral water, mixed with a daily ration of vitamins, and leave to the Italian Mausoleum and cemetery on a hill, five kilometers from Adi Quala. A lot of school children and women are walking to the opposite direction, going to school or to their work in Adi Quala. Every once and a while I ask them the directions, afraid I will make some extra kilometers.

The last 2 kilometers are the toughest, going up hill with steep shortcuts, following the instructions of the local children, who are more used to the path, using it every day to go to school. The children want Nakfa's. I do not have any one Nakfa notes, and if I give one to one child, the rest will not leave before they also get a Nakfa, so I have to ignore them.

On top of the hill the view is fantastic. The cemetery is maintained very well and surrounded by enormous cacti. A boy is guiding me to several interesting points for a good view on the surroundings. And he teaches me some Tigrinya words, "Gheza, house, mekaber, cemetery". The boy's name is Efrem. He is quiet and does not whine for Nakfa's. I hide a five Nakfa note in the palm of my hand and when we shake hands as a good bey, he understands and takes the Nakfa's, without alarming the other kids.

I walk back to Adi Quala, the wind is blowing over the fields. It is a warm breeze, and my lips become dry. I buy some mango juice in the first shop I pass, and another one in the next shop. I walk the main street in both directions, and some of the side streets. When I pass the catholic church I ask if I can visit the compound. It is ok. I am even invited to see the interior of the church.

I make some last pictures and return to the hotel to pay my bills. 78 Nakfa for one night, four double araki's and two bottles of mineral water, the price of two beers in an Amsterdam cafe.

At the bus station, I take the bus to Mendefera at 10:45. Just before Mendefera, at 12:00, it passes the bus to Asmara. The driver of this bus indicates the destination "Asmara, Asmara", and when it is clear that some of the passengers want to change buses, they both wait and some minutes later, I am on my way to Asmara.

In Asmara I take a taxi to the office of the EPDJ, the ruling party, to get myself an invitation for the ceremonies on May 24th in the stadium. When they hear that I am a tourist, the ask me to get the invitation from the ministry of tourism. I need the invitation, so a hasten to take a taxi to the ministry. They tell me I am a few hours late. They just handed out the last ones. They will ask at some of the offices. Then the minister herself, Amina Nurhussien, shows up in the door opening. "If you have fifteen minutes, I will have some time for you, and we will drink tea", she says.

I show her the backup files of my last visit to Eritrea in 2003 and the updates of the Asmara and Eritrea information pages, and we drink tea. She orders her secretary to make a document that could serve as an invitation to the stadium. "And since you are part of the Ministry, I would like to invite you to a party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel tonight", she says.

To be considered a member of the Ministry is the nicest compliment of this years visit to Eritrea, and with the invitation for the ceremonies, I walk to Pizzeria Eritrea, to try one of Terhas' pizza's and express my joy of today's adventures. I take a shower to get rid of five days dust, and change clothes for tonight's party. Ghenet makes me some pasta and tea.

At the Corea Housing Complex, there is always a line of taxi's waiting for passengers. I ask the driver how much he will charge me to bring me to the Selam Hotel. "Get in", he orders me. I take that answer as an invitation to make my own price, because they must know me by now, passing there every day (to the bus stop!). At the Selam Hotel I give him 40 Nakfa, the usual price (in the evening). I wonder what he would have said if I gave him 20 or 30. 

In the Selam Hotel I recognize a lot of the men and women of the Ministry and government hotels. The cooks of the hotel prepared us a selection of both traditional Eritrean food and pasta's. And when the music starts, we dance until midnight. I do my best to do dance, with the help of some Melotti beers. It is appreasiated. Someone sticks a Nakfa behind my ear to show his appreciation.

When I consider it time to go back to the apartment of Terhas and Feshaye, the manager of the Selam Hotel asks me not to leave. "please have another whisky, there is always someone who can bring you back to your house." It is 2:30 when Haile, one of the older employees of the Ministry, drops me at the apartment of Terhas and Feshaye.

 

"Mekaber, cemetery". Italian cemetery and mausoleum - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Italian cemetery and mausoleum, Daro Kunaat - Adi Quala Eritrea.

View over Adi Quala Eritrea.

View over Adi Quala Eritrea.

Traditional dwellings, "Gheza, house" - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Traditional dwellings, "Gheza, house" - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Farmer ploughing his land - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Farmer ploughing his land - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Local people and cattle gathered at the well - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Local people and cattle gathered at the well - Adi Quala Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

Party of the Ministry of Tourism in the Selam Hotel - Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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