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May 2004 - Celebrating the
13th anniversary of Eritrea
 
 

From Assab to Foro - May 28th 2004

 

 It is not easy to leave the hotel at 4:15 in the morning. Most doors are locked to discourage thieves, but I want to go out to the bus. There is only a lady cleaning the place, who does not speak one word English. But pointing at the door mentioning the word "bus", she understands and walks to one of the doors on the other side of the hotel compound to wake up the guard to open the gate for me.

When I arrive at the bus station next to the hotel, they are already boarding. I have seat number zero, a large yellow 50 liter can with olive oil standing in front of the bus. Although it is not the most comfortable seat, I have an excellent view through the front windows. Just before the bus leaves, I do my best to tidy the window on both the in- and outside, so I can make reasonable pictures through the glass.

The is a lot of luggage in front of the bus limiting my freedom of movement, but I am still very happy to have a ride back home anyway. Maybe I can switch with one of the other passengers during the trip to Massawa. It is still dark when we leave at 5:15. The bus first visits the police station. When I ask why, they tell me it is part of the procedures. The police inspect the interior of the bus and some minutes later we leave Assab and pass the first checkpoint.

The condition of the road varies. It is generally good, but it has to pass a river bed every once of a while, and the bus has to reduce its speed to take these barriers.

The first stop is in Edd, where the passengers can have their breakfast: injera with shiro. At 12:00 we reach Thio where I have to leave the bus, to have my passport registrated in the small office of the military police. I have to climb over the other passengers and their luggage. The millitary apologizes. It is because of the situation, the "Woyanes". By now I am used to it.

A few minutes later we all have to leave the bus. The other bus, that accompanies us through the Denkalia Desert, does not show up at the checkpoint. The only conclusion can be that it broke down and is now somewhere in the desert with its passengers. It will take two hours before the two buses show up in Thio again. The passengers of the other bus have been waiting in the desert for an hour, and need some time a drink and stretch their legs.

The other bus will stay in Thio, because, although they had some repairs, it is not safe to continue. So I guess I am lucky to have the third class seat in this bus. But I am really starting to feel my bottom. The girl sitting next to me offers to share her seat with me. But it is to tight, so she chooses to sit on the oil can instead. In the meantime I have a change to make some pictures in the direction of the Red Sea and its mangrove forests. When the road bends away from the Red Sea I return the seat to the girl. In the meantime the temperature in the bus is rising to a uncomfortable level. My mango juice is hot like tea.

In Ghela'elo I try to find some fish for diner. The fish is finished. And so is the mineral water. Only Coca Cola and injera. And water packed in small plastic bags. But I do not want to drink them, afraid they will contain contaminated water. When we leave Ghela'elo it is getting dark.

The road is getting worse and suddenly we hear a clear "bang". "Hansap, hansap" (wait for a moment), the passengers in the back of the bus shout. The goat, making the trip on the roof of the bus, dropped from the roof rack. The goat is hoisted back on the bus. I hear an alarming steel on steel sound coming from below. Did one of the shock absorbers give up? We reach Foro without further problems at 21:00.

The passengers have to find themselves a bed in one of the hotels, with only a bed under the clear sky. For 20 Nakfa, I have bed number 10 in hotel Assab. The only shower is a bucket filled with water. Not knowing what to do with it, I wash my face and leave the rest of the water to another guest. I start walking through Foro, to find myself something to eat. But again my most popular food is finished. I have bread with egg, but will only eat the egg. The bread is not fresh.

In a shop I buy a large bottle of mineral water, using half of it to replace the liquid I lost since Ghela'elo and the other half for tomorrow. I boy in the hotel offers to store my camera bag in one of the private rooms. "There is a lot of thieves". How do I know that he isn't? I decide to memorize his face and give him the bag. It is time to go to bed.

 

The road through the Dankalia dessert Eritrea.

The road through the Dankalia dessert Eritrea.

The road through the Dankalia dessert Eritrea.

The road through the Dankalia dessert Eritrea.

The heavy duty bus - our transport from Assab to Massawa.

The heavy duty bus - our transport from Assab to Massawa.

The road through the Dankalia dessert Eritrea.

The road through the Dankalia dessert Eritrea.

Shanty restaurant on the shores of the Red Sea - Edd Eritrea.

Shanty restaurant on the shores of the Red Sea - Edd Eritrea.

Michael and Tesfalem waiting for the bus to return - Thio Eritrea.

Michael and Tesfalem waiting for the bus to return - Thio Eritrea.

My neighbor in the bus to Massawa.

My neighbor in the bus to Massawa.

Mangroves and salt panes between Thio and Ghela'elo.

Mangroves and salt panes between Thio and Ghela'elo.

Bars and restaurants - Ghela'elo Eritrea.

Bars and restaurants - Ghela'elo Eritrea.

Sunset -  Red Sea beach - Eritrea.

Sunset -  Red Sea beach - Eritrea.

 

 
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