Keren Eritrea - May 31st 2005
In the morning I go to the market,
but it is quiet. The men tell me I should come either on Thursday or Saturday.
The Kunama women will then come from their village to visit the market. I have
to remember that for my November visit, when it is winter in Eritrea and
the Merhaba hotel will be available (I hope).
In the main street of Barentu I
watch the men eating oil-dumplings, called ""zalavia". They are
sold in portions of eight by local women and I remember I eat them (and liked
them) in Agordat last year. So I order a portion and share it with other men.
The men, in turn, order their portions and share them with me.
After this social breakfast of tea
and zalavia, I buy some provisions (oranges and water) and walk back to the bus
station on the other edge of Barentu and take the bus to Keren.
In Keren I am unpleasantly surprised
by the fact that there is no bus to Asmara. That's to say: there is two buses and hundreds of people, all visitors of the festival and now returning to
Asmara. A taxi will cost more than 1000 Nakfa. I decide to go back to the house
of Afworki and Hansu.
"You are our brother!",
which means I am welcome to stay another night in their house. They will help me
to get a bus tomorrow early morning. Hansu and Afworki return to their work, I
will have to make a program for this afternoon.
I ask Hidat and Rahel what would be
the best hotels in Keren, just for the sake of visiting them and judging them
myself. She makes a short list (1) Sarina Hotel (2) Sheghe Hotel (3) Yohannes
Hotel (4) Sicilia Pension (5) Keren Hotel and (6) Wedeb Hotel.
I already visited the new Sarina
Hotel, a few days ago, so I will first go to the Yohannes Hotel, close to the
center of Keren. When I ask if I can visit the hotel, a waitress friendly shows
me to the stairs. The hotel is modest, but neat and clean. Not a bad choice if
you want to stay close to the center, I guess. I ask if I can go to the roof. It
is ok and I make some pictures.
The second hotel to visit is the
Shege hotel. The hotel is near the road to Agordat. It is a very new upper class
hotel, but not expensive. One of the guests tells me he paid 100 Nakfa for one
night. He is very positive about the hotel. The hotel looks very new, neat and
clean, and is surrounded by a beautiful well maintained garden.
Again I make the climb to the
roof, but the area is not very attractive to make pictures. In the
restaurant of the Shege hotel I order a lunch. The bunny's are a pleasant
surprise. Very fresh and tasty and even the price is surprisingly low.
Next to the Shege hotel is the Wedeb
hotel, a more modest hotel. The people in the hotel are friendly, but this a
common in Eritrea and not a virtue to recommend the Wedeb hotel. But if you want
to save some Nakfa's it is not a bad choice.
I walk back to the center to
visit number five in Hidat's list, the Sicilia Pension. A few days ago I
met some guests who were positive about the place. Very cheap, cozy, close
to the center, but without much personal comfort.
I promised Hidat I would
return at 15:30 to walk with her. She will show me a few places and
members of her family. Of course I am in time to accept her invitation.
her family, bars, a modern pastry and the local market. I want to buy a
small lace basket, adorned with shells and beads. But I want a picture of
the shopkeeper as well. I can persuade him to make the picture. Usually
they only allow to to picture the shop itself.
When Hidat shows
some enthusiasm about a bracelet in one of the shops, I decide to buy her
one as a gift. Although the bracelet is of little value, she is proud to
show it to her sister. "look what Hans bought me!" I am glad I
found something to reward their hospitality.
Rahel asks me why I did not
bring her a bracelet. Good question. I did not think of it at the time.
Rahel tells me she renamed the cat. From now on the cat will carry my
name. I ask her how I will know if she calls me, or the cat. "Why
should I call the cat?" she replies. We have to laugh.
After a short rest I walk to
the bus station to inform about the transport problem. Still there is a
long queue of people and only a few buses. I am told to be here very early next morning. Either to be one of
the happy few to get a bus, or to share another mode of transport.
When I return to the House of
Afworki and Hansu, the gate is closed. Nobody home. But the neighbors
daughters Tarig, Fortuna and Yohanna insist I will wait in their house and
drink tea with them.
Half an hour later Hansu
returns from her mothers house and makes me injera with shiro. Yohanna is
visiting us, to practice her English. She is telling me about the subjects
they teach on her school.
Last task of this day is to
take good care of my feet. I walked a lot in the heat, so I do not only
clean them very well, but give them a well deserved massage to bring them
in a perfect condition for the next days.
At 22:00 I have no problems to
catch sleep after the lousy night in Barentu.
Yohannes Hotel - Keren Eritrea.
View from the roof of the
Yohannes Hotel - Keren Eritrea.
Shege Hotel (recommended!) -
Wedeb Hotel (neighbor of the Shege
Hotel) - Keren Eritrea.
Road to Agordat - Keren
Library and local
administration building - Keren Eritrea.
Court of the Sicilia
Pension, a cozy budget hotel - Keren Eritrea.
Hidat and her aunt in her aunt's
shop - Keren Eritrea.
Souvenir shop and shop
keeper - Keren Eritrea..
Small scale trade on the bus
station - Keren Eritrea.