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Touring through Eritrea
November and December 2006
 
Asmara and surroundings
November and December 2006
 
Mai Nehi Hotel 
 Mai Nefhi Eritrea
Tel. +2911 159639
 

 

Mai Nefhi Eritrea - December 7th 2006

 

A few years ago I made a short trip to Mai Nefhi with Feshaye. I brought him some medicine, and as a reward he showed me the dam and the water reservoir. Actually I wanted to visit Mai Nefhi, which is a small region and village, and not only the dam and the water reservoir, but since tourists look at Eritrea from another perspective, I did not want to trouble Feshaye with long walks in an area that many Eritreans regard as unattractive.

The Eritreans like to show me their housing projects, new infrastructure like hospitals and schools. Their progress is their pride, while my focus is more on the Eritrean tradition. And their traditions are well preserved in the rural areas and smaller villages, or parts of the larger Eritrean cities, like Hazhaz in Asmara and the Kunama settlements in Barentu.

Mai Nefhi can be reached easily with one of the many Toyota mini buses, or the public bus number 22, that departs from Bloko Godaif, which is just outside Godaif on the road to Adi Guadad and Mendefera. Mai Nefhi hosts the Eritrean Institute of Technology, which means that many teachers will make the daily trip from Asmara to Mai Nefhi. Today I will join them.

The Technical School a small village itself, where hundreds of students study Education, Engineering and Technology, and Science. There is many rows of classrooms and a campus for the students. The mini bus stops at the main entrance of the school. Just to be sure I ask the directions to the Mai Nefhi dam in the teachers room. "Walk back 500 meters, and you will see a sign pointing to the Mai Nefhi Hotel on your left hand".

From the school it is a two kilometers walk to the Mai Nefhi Hotel and the dam, passing the campus of the Technical School. The students, passing me on their bikes, or observing me from behind the fence of the campus, ask me where I am going. Some think I am a new teacher. At the hotel I have a short break to drink some water.

The water reservoir of Mai Nefhi is the most prominent water resource of the Maakel Region, a basin to store water for both drinking and irrigation purposes to make sure the region is prepared for years with low rainfall.  After the excellent rains of this year, the water level has come relatively close to its maximum. Behind the dam the water is purified for further transportation to the urban centers. I follow the banks of the water reservoir, walking to the village.

The Mai Nefhi village is an open-air exhibition of the traditional Eritrean way of life: the many hidmo's, the traditional highland houses, and a people making their living from their land, involved in either agriculture or relying on cattle, sheep and goats for food and income.

As everywhere, children keep following me, asking "What is your name? How old are you?". Some are asking for a Nakfa. I use to surprise them be turning around suddenly, so I am following them. They spread in all directions.

In a small bar opposite to the bus stop, I have an egg burger for lunch and a lot of mai gaz (mineral water) to grease my throat. When a Toyota mini bus passes I give a sign that I need transport to Asmara. I am lucky: there is a business class seat for me, next to the driver. Half an hour later I am in Godaif, a southern suburb of Asmara.

In Asmara I read my e-mail in the TSE cyber cafe, and receive the good news that the Rotterdam fund raising for the blind family in Afabet is so successful that I can make an extra deposit of 8000 Nakfa on their bank account. Since my holidays are almost finished now, I can use the extra euros that I use to bring to Eritrea, to be prepared in case of emergency.

In the hall of the Commercial Bank of Eritrea in Harnet Avenue I explain the nature of the intended money transaction to one of the managerial staff of the bank. A friendly employee gives me all assistance, so that I do not have to wait in three different lines (to exchange, cash and deposit), but the whole transaction is done in the background after handing my euros and my passport and filling some forms.

In the office of Travel House International, I discuss my plans for tomorrow. Tedros suggests it might be a nice idea to walk from Mai Nefhi to Zawl, passing an attractive green landscape.

  

Technical School and campus - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Technical School and campus - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

View from the Mai Nefhi Hotel - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

View from the Mai Nefhi Hotel (near the dam) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Dam - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Dam - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Water reservoir - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Water reservoir - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Orthodox church - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Orthodox church - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Hidmo (traditional dwelling) - Mai Nefhi Eritrea.

Italian signpost - Bloko Godaif Asmara Eritrea.

Italian signpost - Bloko Godaif Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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