Asmara Eritrea - June 1st 2005
"Hannes! Hannes!" At 5:00
Hansu is doing her best to wake me up, to be one of the first to arrive at the
bus station. It is dark. I follow another man, hoping he will my guide through
the rough area.
When I arrive at the bus station
hundreds of people are waiting. I ask one of he men what would be the best
strategy to find transport to Asmara. He guides me to the square just outside
the bus station and tells me to try to get on one of the mini buses. I have to
be prepared to pay some extra Nakfa's.
Even at this spot more than 100
people are waiting. I calculate that I will be on the 12th bus, if I am lucky. A
few minutes later the same man comes to me saying "That bus will go to
Asmara". I run to the Toyota van. To my big surprise, I am one of the few
people interested. I guess it is an expensive bus.
But it will be less expensive than a
taxi, I guess. I get in and some passengers that must have heart the price of
the trip get out, complaining. The mini bus rounds the square to find three more
passengers. At 6:00 we are on our way to Asmara.
Just outside Keren the bus the
driver overlooks a large hole in the road. The bus survives the manoeuvre to
pass it. At least it gives me confidence it the brakes of the bus. The
passengers are silent during the trip. Either they are sleepy, or nobody knows
In Asmara we pay 50 Nakfa, twice the
usual price of the trip, but nothing compared to the taxi fare. It is still very
early in the morning when I walk to the house of Zewdi and Gebrehiwot, where we
I take a bus to Sembel, curious
about Yordanos. She was expecting a baby. It is a girl, born on May 25th. Her
name is Netsanet, which means liberation, because the girl was born one day
after Independence Day.
Yordanos makes me ga'at, a stiff porridge,
with a hole in the middle that contains butter, spiced with berbere. Women come
to visit the family, to see how mother and child are doing, and to offer help if
necessary. But Yordanos is a strong woman, well able to manage the situation
Next visit is the house of Terhas
and Feshaye. None of them is home, both are working. Tsega makes me tea and Hiab
tells me stories in Tigrinya that I do not understand.
Berhe Aiba bar for some beers,
Asmara Intercontinental Hotel to make reservations for Dehab Faytinga's
concert on June 4th, Expo, Ministry of Labor & Human Welfare, Lion
hotel. I drink tea, gather data, meet friends. Just behind the Lion hotel
I visit the
Asmara tank graveyard, from there I walk to the cemetery. Rows of well
tendered graves, decorated with bougainvillea.
I drink coffee with Tedros of
Travel House International. He gives me updates on the Eritrean Airlines
and Eritrean Railways activities. There is regular trips to Nefasit on Saturdays,
he tells me, if there is a minimum of ten passengers. The Keren hotel also
opened its doors after the renovation. Price data are not available yet.
Fruit juice at Bar Amanuel, a
pizza in Tehas' pizzeria Eritrea, getting drunk and teasing Freweini in
Selas bar. And then back to Zewdi and Gebrehiwit to prepare for the trip
to Senafe tomorrow.
architecture - Asmara Eritrea.
Odeon cinema - Asmara Eritrea.
Yordanos preparing ga'at, a small
volcano made of poridge with a
butter and berbere sauce in the middle - Sembel Asmara Eritrea.
Junior school - Sembel Asmara Eritrea.
Warsay street, Expo area -
growing over rusty military hardware - Asmara tank graveyard.
Door of a USSR army truck -
Asmara tank graveyard.
Italian military cemetery - Asmara
Italian military cemetery - Asmara
St. Michael Church - Asmara