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May 2005 - Celebrating the
14th anniversary of Eritrea
 

 

Barentu Eritrea - May 30th 2005

 

Hansu makes me an omelet and some tea. After this breakfast I hand het the money I would have spent in the hotel, so they will have a little extra this month. They take take of me, I will take care of them. We make some last pictures and Afworki gives me a ride to the bus station with his Opel Astra.

The bus is waiting, but almost ready to leave. I have one of the seats in the back, close to the emergency door. It is a good seat to leave the bus when it will stop on one of the checkpoints.

The first is just outside Keren. By now, I know what should be done. When the military police enters the bus, I get out in the back, pointing to the little office, so it will be clear that I know the procedure. A military mean is sitting behind his desk. I shake his hand, and give him my permit.

He looks into my eyes. I give him a smile. Friends, without any words! The military man copies the data from the permit into his logbook. "Going to Barentu? As a tourist? Have a nice trip!" I carefully store the permit in my camera bag. And even before the other MP has finished his check in the bus, I am back on board.

The bus is strong, but slow. At 10:00 we are at the Agordat checkpoint. Same procedure. Efficient, polite, but strict. The bus enters Agordat for a 15 minutes tea break. I chose a bar next to the bus to drink a bottle of mineral water. It is hot, very hot in Agordat.

The driver sounds the horn to indicate that he is planning to leave. Driving through the main street of Agordat he slows down to give the last passengers a chance to make a run on the bus (or stay behind).

At 12:00 we pass the third checkpoint: Barentu. I ask the driver to stop at the Merhaba hotel. Bad luck! It is closed for renovation. And as far as I know, there are no other comparable hotels, since the Ethiopian army plundered and demolished the Gash hotel.

After a short walk, I find myself a room with a bed and a table in the Freselam hotel for 40 Nakfa. I leave my luggage in the room, and walk back, using the main road, to the checkpoint on the edge of Barentu. From there I will start my walk through the Kunama village.

It is hot, so I walk very slow, not expecting much excitement. The only thing of interest is an oil press, powered by a blinded camel, walking in circles. I make some pictures and give the man some Nakfa's, as requested.

Then suddenly someone is calling me. "Hannes! Hannes!" It is Tsehaye, the brother of Afworki. I only met him once, last year in Keren, but he remembered my face. I have to come in to have lunch and drink tea in his small house. Life is difficult here in Barentu. A few days ago his wife gave birth to their second child.

Before I leave I give him 100 Nakfa to buy a cloth for the baby. I didn't come to Barentu with a thick wallet, but I guess this family will need it more than I. Tsehaye says I am always welcome to rest in his house if I am nearby.

I continue my walk through the village, using the sun and the telephone line as my guide. Back in Barentu I drink some mango juice in Rawha's grocery shop before I return to the Freselam hotel.

Unfortunately the bar of the hotel is close to the bedrooms. No chance to sleep until the last visitor has left and the music stops. It gives me some time to write, but next time I will choose another place to spend the night.

It is hot, even at night. Mosquito's are further terrorizing my night rest. Quite different from Keren, where it was cool at night. Knowing Agordat is even more hot, I decide to return to Asmara tomorrow, to have a decent shower and some rest.

 

Restaurant and bar on route to Barentu Eritrea.

Restaurant and bar in Mogolo on the road to Barentu Eritrea.

Traditional houses - Barentu Eritrea.

Traditional houses - Barentu Eritrea.

Billboard informing about AIDS - Barentu Eritrea.

Billboard informing about AIDS in the Kunama language - Barentu Eritrea.

Eroded Landscape - Barentu Eritrea.

Eroded Landscape - Barentu Eritrea.

City Park - Barentu Eritrea.

City Park - Barentu Eritrea.

"Asara" traditional sesami oil press- Barentu Eritrea.

"Asara" traditional sesami oil press- Barentu Eritrea.

Tsehaye and his wife Tekisti - Barentu Eritrea.

Tsehaye and his wife Tekisti in their one room Tukul - Barentu Eritrea.

Tsehaye's wife Tekisti and child - Barentu Eritrea.

Tsehaye's wife Tekisti and child - Barentu Eritrea.

Woman cooking - Barentu Eritrea.

Woman cooking - Barentu Eritrea.

Saba - registration in the Freselam Hotel - Barentu Eritrea.

Saba - registration in the Freselam Hotel - Barentu Eritrea.

Rawha in her small grocery store - Barentu Eritrea.

Rawha in her small grocery store - Barentu Eritrea.

 

 
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