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
The road through the
Dankalia dessert Eritrea.
The heavy duty bus - our
transport from Assab to
The road through the Dankalia
Shanty restaurant on the shores of
the Red Sea - Edd Eritrea.
Michael and Tesfalem waiting for
the bus to return - Thio Eritrea.
My neighbor in the bus to
Mangroves and salt panes
between Thio and Ghela'elo.
Bars and restaurants -
Sunset - Red Sea beach