Keren - November 25 2009
Perhaps it is because there will be a Muslim
holiday a few days from now (Id-Al-Adha next Friday), that the speakers on the minarets of the
mosques spread their prayers or messages longer and more often than usual.
Starting from 5:00 in the morning the words of the muezzin last for at
least 30 minutes, instead of the usual short call for prayer.
At 5:45 the cocks take over with their
cucuricu, and at 6:00
Hansu adds her kitchen utensils to finish the Keren early morning
wake up call.
Hansu prepares tea and coffee, and we eat
some bread. Hansu will go to her work at the Ministry of Education, where
she is responsible for the files of the many teachers in the Anseba region.
I will walk, as usual. No one to guide me.
Why should they? In the eyes of the Eritreans there is nothing special to
see, but through the eyes of a tourist every walk has its special moments.
I buy some oranges on the vegetable market,
as an emergency supply of energy, and hop into a random mini bus. It takes me a few kilometers on the
road to Asmara, to the Sarina Hotel. From there I climb up
the mountain on the opposite side of the road, to follow the former railway, which runs
a little higher on a narrow track on the edge of the mountain.
From the Sarina hotel I walk back to Keren.
From the track one has a nice view over this part of the town. The track
almost runs through the back yard of the Bar Restaurant Stuttgart, where I
have some rest with Elen and her two daughters, Hidat and Rahel.
I have lunch in the restaurant of Nazret
and her family, on the left of the road to the (old) commercial bank. In
front of the bus station, I enjoy some fruit juices.
Starting from the
center, I explore another edge of Keren, ending in Waliku. Although it is
winter in Eritrea, temperatures are high. I
return to the center with one of the small Toyota minibuses.
Curious about the camels,
almost entirely hidden under their load of straw, I decide to follow them.
They drop off their merchandise in a kind of open air wholesale
store, where it is loaded on a Mercedes truck.
I promised to return to Bar
Restaurant Stuttgart at 15:00 to walk, chat and have a drink with Hidat.
It is hot and good to take some rest.
I observe the daily life of Keren. It is a
life of working hard for a very small income. Much of the transport is
done by donkeys, camels, and small carts. A mixture of antique and modern
trucks are responsible for the intercity transport of the farm products in this important agricultural region in Eritrea.
We visit a CD shop. Hidat chooses her
favorite songs from the library on the desktop computer. She wants me to
to approve her choices, so it is a mini co-production. The resulting CD is
a small goodbye gift from me.
Hagossa, the female shop assistant, asks me
if we can exchange addresses, so we can write each other.
When we pass a beggar, Hidat tells me about
his background. He does not have a wife, nor children and no family
abroad. He became sick, and lost his job. He has nothing to support his
life, apart from the small gifts from those who pass by.
In the evening Hansu cooks me my favorite
food: pasta, with a tomato and onion sauce. I give her some money, and the
key of the house, so I will not forget it tomorrow, when I will return to
Asmara by bus. Too early, but rules is rules. Hansu understands.
She asks if I have the address of Claire.
She received a few postcards from her, and wants to write her a letter. I
don't have the address. Maybe Claire or one of her colleagues (teaching
the teachers in Keren) will read my diary, and leave a message, using the
contact button below.
1954 Mercedes Benz truck -
Road to Asmara - Keren
Straw market - Keren Eritrea.
Straw market - Keren Eritrea.
Cattle in the dry Anseba
rived bed - Waliku Keren Eritrea.
Primary school - Waliku Keren Eritrea.
Hidat - Bus terminal Keren
Bar and restaurant - Keren
View from the balcony of the
bus terminal - Keren Eritrea.
Dongolo mai gaz (mineral
water) - Hidat Keren Eritrea.