Agordat Eritrea - September 29th 2004
There is no breakfast service in Almaz'
pension, so I leave the hotel early in the morning to find a restaurant to eat some
bread. When I pass the market, one of the men invites me to sit next to
him. We drink a mixture of milk and tea. He also offers me a small local
The fact that the people of Agordat are
preparing my breakfast, strikes me. In our culture everyone is trying to
exploit tourist. Here they are treating them like their family! When I
walk a few blocks, I am invited again. The men offer me a chair and a cup
From the city center I walk to the Barka
river. When I pass a man walking with his son, he asks me to picture them.
When I am close to the river, another man is shouting in my direction. I
have to wait for him. Not knowing the reason, I just wait. He tells me to
walk with him, just for my own safety.
In the bushes that border the river, I see
one of the reasons: A giant snake, like the one demonstrated in the Expo
area, but this time wild and therefore looking for food. I guess I am to
fat for the snake, so there is no reason to panic. He will prefer an
easier victim. We walk a few hundred meters in the dry river bed.
The man explains what is to be seen in just
a few words. "Banana trees. Eagle!" The broken earth crust
crackles under our feet. Thousands of birds give a concert in the thick
vegetation that borders the river. The man shows me the direction back to
Agordat and proceeds his walk following the Barka river, while I chose a
small path through the bushes.
When I pass a small village close to the
river bank, I am invited to have some rest en drink some water. I watch
the comings and goings of daily life in the shade of the hut. After these
few minutes rest I resume my walk to the center of Agordat, using the
mosque as a useful landmark to find the direction.
I collect my luggage and walk to the bus
station. On the market I buy some oranges for lunch. There is to much
passengers for Barentu. When the minibus enters the bus station, people
hurry to have a seat. And since I am the less experienced traveler, I will
have to wait for the next bus.
Just when I start to worry about my
transport to Barentu, a boy "arranges" a seat in the next bus.
He claims the seat, calls me, and gives it to me. Of course I have to pay
him some Nakfa's, but my problem is solved. It is better than a new
struggle for a seat in one of the mini buses.
At 14:00 we are on our way to Barentu. 18
passengers in a mini van make the trip a cozy adventure. I share the
oranges with the passengers next to me. The gesture is most appreciated.
When some of the passengers leave the bus at one of the stopovers, the
driver invites me to sit next to him, and I have a comfortable seat after
Before entering Barentu there is check of
the military police. They order me to visit a small office to register my
visit. "Ask for Tesfai" There is a few small buildings, so I
decide to repeat the name Tesfai. The military man is friendly. He even
apologizes for the delay. "It is the rules. We have to be
careful" he tells me, while writing the details of the travel permit
in a kind of log book. When the procedure is finished, I hurry back to the
bus, that is waiting for me.
At 15:30 we arrive in Barentu. I ask the
driver to stop in front of the Merhaba hotel, the best hotel in town. I
check in and pay the 100 Nakfa for the night. In the hotels restaurant I
have a delayed lunch or early diner. A perfect spaghetti dish and fruit
salad for desert.
I walk back in the direction of the
traditional Kunama village. There is a lot of new residential buildings in
the southern part of the town, but as a tourist, I usually ignore these
areas. I must admit that the pictures presented in my travel story suggest
lack of modernism. But is just lack of interest for modern constructions
from the author.
The Kunama girls in their beautiful
colorful clothes and traditional hair dressing avoid my camera. I wait in
front of one of the bars for them to pass, but they know what I am up to
and choose the other side of the street.
Strong winds announce heavy rains. I have
just enough time to return to the main street and shelter in one of the
bars. Kunama women are sheltering too, but I guess it would be impolite to
picture them in this situation, with their wet hair.
After an hour or so the rain stops,
but the streets are wet and muddy. The dark sky suggests I should not walk
to far, with the risk of a new rain storm. So I spend the rest of the day
snaking through the side streets of the main street of Barentu.
New residential buildings -
View over Agordat Eritrea.
Traditional houses - Agordat
"Picture us" - Agordat
The landscape around Agordat (on
my way to the Barka river).
Walking through the dry river bed
of the Barka river - Agordat Eritrea.
Small village on the bank of
the Barka river -
Small village on the bank of the Barka river -
Carrying palm leaves to the
market - Agordat Eritrea.
Small village -