Massawa Eritrea - May 26th 2005
The only preparations for the trip
to Massawa is to prepare a light bag with necessities (the absolute minimum,
since it will be very hot), and clothes that will protect the skin, including a
cap. At the bus station I buy some liquids to drink during the trip (you will
need it when you have passed Ghinda).
There is 30 minutes delay because a
giant crane is hoisting a pick-up that crashed into a dry river bed. There is an
increasing numbers of accidents like this in Eritrea, due to old and badly
maintained vehicles, but also to carelessness of the driver. The roads are
generally in a very good condition.
When we reach Massawa, I leave the
bus before it turns to the right to the bus station. I will walk the last
kilometers, to find the first people on last years pictures in Kutmia. I
estimate the approximate location and enter a bar.
Bingo! The girl immediately recognizes
the picture of her and her sister. "Please come in", she says, showing
the pictures to her family. I am invited to
join them in a room just behind the bar, to join their coffee ceremony.
I drink a few beers (in this climate
your body needs enormous quantities of drinks) and start a conversation with the
other visitors. A small child is investigating this foreigner. I give her what
is left over of the biscuits I bought as a breakfast.
They want to know my name, and
I ask them their names. "Visit us next time", the owner says
when I pay for the beer. On the other side of the road and railway line I
find some other people on last years pictures. The same enthusiast
reactions. I drink some soft drinks and proceed my walk to the first dam
that connects the mainland with the first island..
A Chinese company is widening
the dam to a two lane passage. I guess it will mean an improvement but now
it is looking a bit chaotic. In a pavement just outside the completely
renovated Corallo hotel, I take some rest. And a lot of mineral water.
Temperatures are rising fast.
I decide to take a mini bus to
travel the last three kilometers and cross the second dam. The climate is
exhausting you rapidly. On Batse island boys are offering me all kind of
services, trying to earn some money. "Want to change money?"
"Want to rent a boat?" "Want to go to Gurgusum beach?"
I don't want anything but
beers and mineral water. Why did I torture myself to go to Massawa in the
hottest season? While I am trying to find some women I pictured last year,
I enter a beauty salon. The women want me to stay tonight and walk and
drink with me. "There is no bus to Asmara today!" I am not that
naive, to think it is hospitality only. They must be whores. And there
will be buses to Asmara.
In Restaurant Eritrea I order
some pasta. Hungry cats are begging for some food. When one of the other
guests leaves his table, the cats take possession of what is left on his
plate. I a slow pace I cross the small alleys of Massawa's port area. It
looks deserted. Everuone is resting now.
I a bar a taxi driver is
complaining about his business. The price of gasoline is 25 Nakfa
nowadays, and the supply is limited by government rationing. If he needs
more he has to buy it from "friends" for prices as high as 40
At the bus stop on the shore,
opposite to the telecommunications office, I sit down at the bus stop, to
wait for whatever will happen. A girl is making up her face in the mirror
of one of the taxi's. I ask if I can picture her. It will cost me 100
Nakfa. I offer her 10. There is no deal, and no pictures.
When the taxi leaves, I decide
to hop in. It is to hot to walk. For two Nakfa the mini bus takes me back
to the bus station, where I have a few Coca Cola's before I take the bus
to Asmara at 16:00.
Between Ghinda and Asmara we
have to wait again for the removal of a big truck that crashed into a
river bed and lost its load, barrels with bitumen. It looks like the front
axle of the truck broke. I lean against one of the trucks in its shade,
and on the stabilizers of the crane, to wait until the salvage of the
truck is finished.
A lady joins me and asks if I
have a mobile phone, to contact her friends in Asmara. During our
conversation I notice that she wants more. She tells me her name is
Florida. She is from Mendefera, and wants to make an appointment with me
in Asmara. Her husband was expelled to Ethiopia some years ago. "I am
single and without children". I tell her I have an Eritrean wife.
Either she doesn't believe me, or she doesn't care.
I return to the crane, hoping
she will not follow me. It will take an hour to remove the mess and it is
dark when we arrive at the bus station in Asmara. "Hannes, Hannes".
It is Florida. She tells me her actual name is Freweini. She wants to
enjoy. "Come with me to the house of my friends". I tell her I
can't. "My wife is waiting". My wife isn't waiting, but it
sounds convincing. She disappears.
Salvage of a wrecked pickup
on the road from Asmara to Ghinda.
Reunion with a Massawa
family in Kutmia - Massawa.
Reunion with a Massawa family in
Edaga Berai - Massawa.
Massawa minibus - Edaga
Semhar Drug Shop - Edaga
14 candles for 14 years of
Liberation - Massawa Eritrea.
Massawa taxi driver -
Decorated Hotel Torino - Downtown
Supermarket and ship supply store
- Massawa Eritrea.
Wrecked truck between
Massawa and Ghinda.