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Touring through Eritrea
November and December 2006
 
Asmara and surroundings
November and December 2006
 

 

Keren Eritrea - November 28th 2006

 

I wake up at 4:00 and with the light of my torch I wash and get dressed. Yesterday I asked one of the employees of the hotel how to leave the hotel in the morning, and I paid all my bills, so I do not have to disturb anyone. The gate can be opened from within, and at 4:15 I am on my way to the bus station, which is one kilometer from the Tsiku Roman Hotel, also on the main road through Afabet.

It is completely dark, and although I studied the route yesterday, the situations is a bit scaring. The only light is coming from the stars but isn't of any help to find my way through Afabet. There is no one on the streets. With a flashlight I follow the middle of the main road, expecting no trees, poles or holes there. After some time I recognize the silhouette of the mosque, which means I am halfway to the bus station, and I am walking in the right direction.

At 4:30 I am at the bus station, but I am one of the first to arrive. The driver of the bus apologizes for the rest to be late, but by now I should have expected such a situation. Around 5:00 the rest of the passengers gather around the two buses and some men sell tea, hot milk and coffee, made on traditional cooking devices, in the light of oil lamps. I join the passengers drinking tea hot milk sitting on a piece of rock.

At 6:00 the bus starts its engine, and we board the bus. It makes several stops In Afabet to pick up passengers and cargo. Again there is a breakfast break at Kelhamed. I offer tea to the military. I know the have to survive on a small monthly allowance. They refuse. I offer them bread, but again they refuse. From a little girl I buy her whole stock of boiled eggs. They cannot expect me to eat them all. Now they cannot refuse.

I show them some pictures of my Eritrean wife and kids, and some pictures of the blind family I visited in Afabet on the LCD screen of my camera. I tell them about the fund raising of the Eritrean community in the Netherlands for the family. By the time we arrive in Keren, we are brothers in arms. They ask me where I am going. I point to the road to Ciuf Ciufit, and one of the military invites me to his house to drink tea.

In a shop I buy some biscuits. I appreciate the Eritrean hospitality, but feel a bit embarrassed always to come empty handed. We drink tea with a piece of hembesha and chat about my stay in Eritrea and Biniam's life as a soldier. Life as a soldier is hard, and maintaining a standing army to be prepared for Ethiopia's sinister agenda isn't doing any good to Eritrea's economy, making life even harder.

I have lunch in Kidane Asgedom Bar and Fast-food Restaurant, and spend the afternoon walking through Keren and visiting friends. A man calling himself Ali (he is either drunk or mad) is stalking me, pretending he is both my friend and my guide. He wants money for his "services". I try to get rid of him entering the premises of Elen and her family, but he follow me brutally. He even threatens Rahel, Elen's daughter, demanding to return this tourist to him.

I follow Rahel's advice to give him four Nakfa, so he can buy another drink Ali is not satisfied with the small gift, but he gives up his attempts to claim me as "his friend". When I tell Hansu about Ali, she does not hesitate one moment and starts looking for him, starting at the yard of Elen, but Ali disappeared. Lucky Ali. Hansu would have arrested him personally! Hansu makes sure she will recognize Ali by demanding a thorough description of Elen and her daughters.

  

Landscape - road from Afabet to Keren.

Landscape - road from Afabet to Keren.

Water supply - Gez'geza Eritrea.

Water supply - Gez'geza Eritrea.

Ministry of Tourism - Keren Eritrea.

Ministry of Tourism - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

Streetscape - Keren Eritrea.

View over Keren Eritrea.

View over Keren Eritrea.

Rahel - Keren Eritrea.

Rahel - Keren Eritrea.

Woyni in her grocery shop (Dukan) - Keren Eritrea.

Woyni in her grocery shop (Dukan) - Keren Eritrea.

 

 
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