Massawa Eritrea - November 23rd 2006
It is a short walk from the house of
Gebrehiwot near Cinema Roma, to the office of Travel
House International, opposite to the Italian club Casa
Degli Italiani. I do not want to let Tedros wait for me, so I am there
just before 6:00. The driver of the modern Iveco mini bus recognizes me,
and gives a sign, blinking with the headlamps of the bus. We leave exactly
in time for the trip to Massawa.
The 115 kilometer trip takes two and a half
hours, experiencing the “three seasons in three hours”, exchanging the
chilly Asmara morning for the moderate climate of Ghinda and finally the
comfortably warm Massawa climate. Just before we reach Massawa, we pass a just completed new stretch
of asphalt road and a new bridge, build to replace the old Italian
construction, and straightening some curves in the road.
At 10:00 we have finished the paperwork in
the office of the Eritrean Shipping Lines,
the permits for the visit of the Dahlak Islands, and the final arrangements
for chartering the patrol boat. It is winter in Massawa, but still the temperature climbs up
to 37 degrees Celsius at noon. In a slow pace I wander from the port
district to the Red Sea hotel, my home for the next two days.
With Mette and John, two Danish tourists,
also staying in the Red Sea Hotel, I take a taxi to Gurgusum beach, which
is a popular place for a swim, some ten kilometers out of Massawa. The
water is nice and warm, but we are afraid our skin will burn if we stay on
this beach to long, so after some two hours we return to downtown Massawa
with a Toyota mini bus and spend our time walking slowly from the port to
Just like Asmara, Massawa is the scene of
investments in infrastructure. Chinese contractors have doubled the
causeways connecting the port with the mainland. The People's Republic of
China is supporting development plans of the Eritrean government
with unconditional financial aid and loans. Western countries usually make
aid dependent on preconditions that are closely related to Western values
(quite often resulting in political or material gains for the donor countries.
Returns on investment often is one of these values).
Another large building site is the Dahlak
Hotel extensions. Many blocks of apartments, build with respect to
the typical Massawa building styles are now almost finished. The first
efforts to preserve the architectonical heritage of one of the most
fascinating ports in Africa also have been made, although the job to
restore what has been damaged by the 1961-1991 war of liberating looks
Mette and John want me to join them to
enjoy the night life of downtown Massawa, but I will go to bed early for a
good rest. Tomorrows appointment
is at 6:00 at the ESL office, just behind the Massawa police station.
Coral block carvings and
traditional shutters - Massawa Eritrea.
Batse alleys - Massawa Eritrea.
Bar - Batse Massawa Eritrea.
Traditional houses - Batse port
district Massawa Eritrea.
Massawa's columns and arches
- Batse port district.
Former Banca d'Italia - Batse port
Eritrean Shipping Lines head
office - Massawa Eritrea.
Carved doors of the former
imperial palace - Massawa Eritrea.
Catholic Church - Massawa Eritrea.
Red Sea Hotel - Massawa Eritrea.