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
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 in Mogolo
on the road to Barentu Eritrea.
Traditional houses - Barentu
Billboard informing about AIDS in
the Kunama language - Barentu Eritrea.
Eroded Landscape - Barentu Eritrea.
City Park - Barentu Eritrea.
traditional sesami oil press- Barentu Eritrea.
Tsehaye and his wife Tekisti
in their one room Tukul -
Tsehaye's wife Tekisti and child - Barentu
Woman cooking - Barentu Eritrea.
Saba - registration in the Freselam
Hotel - Barentu Eritrea.
Rawha in her small grocery store - Barentu Eritrea.