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May 2005 - Celebrating the
14th anniversary of Eritrea
 

 

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.

We visit 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.

Yohannes Hotel - Keren Eritrea.

View from the roof of the Yohannes Hotel - Keren Eritrea.

View from the roof of the Yohannes Hotel - Keren Eritrea.

Shege Hotel (recommended!) - Keren Eritrea.

Shege Hotel (recommended!) - Keren Eritrea.

Wedeb Hotel (neighbor of the Shege Hotel) - Keren Eritrea.

Wedeb Hotel (neighbor of the Shege Hotel) - Keren Eritrea.

Road to Agordat - Keren Eritrea.

Road to Agordat - Keren Eritrea.

Library and local administration building - Keren Eritrea.

Library and local administration building - Keren Eritrea.

Court of the Sicilia Pension, a cozy budget hotel - Keren Eritrea.

Court of the Sicilia Pension, a cozy budget hotel - Keren Eritrea.

Hidat and her aunt in her aunt's shop - Keren Eritrea.

Hidat and her aunt in her aunt's shop - Keren Eritrea.

Souvenir shop and shop keeper - Keren Eritrea.

Souvenir shop and shop keeper - Keren Eritrea..

Small scale trade on the bus station - Keren Eritrea.

Small scale trade on the bus station - Keren Eritrea.

 

 
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