Asmara - November 29 2009
Last evening Almaz, my sister
in law left a message with Luwam to pass by next morning. Almaz surprises
me with an omelet, fresh breads and a tomato salad. And a traditional
coffee ceremony completes the perfect Sunday morning.
Almaz tells me she found all
items to bring back to The Netherlands next Saturday. She will bring them
to the Zewdi and Gebrehiwot house tomorrow, when Asmara will celebrate the
Nda Mariam Nigdet, the yearly church feast of Asmara's Coptic Cathedral.
She asks me when I will come
to stay in her house for a longer time. I ask her if it is okay to stay in
her house when I will come in July / August to visit the Festival Eritrea
in the Asmara Expo.
After my visit to Almaz, I walk through
the Gejeret district. I take some rest in front of the San Francesco Catholic
Church, where people are just leaving the Sunday mass.
The sunny whether changes
rapidly. Thick clouds roll over the Asmara plateau. I did not think of an
umbrella or a rain coat when I left this morning. The heavy rain and
thunderstorm promptly interrupts my morning walk.
Just in time I can take
shelter in the bar of the Savanna
International Hotel. I have to wait one and a half hour for the rain
to stop, drinking one mai gaz after another, hoping it will not rain all
When the rain stops, I visit
my family in the center of Asmara. I drink coffee with Freweini and Yodit
and I have some hembesha for lunch.
At 13:00 I have an appointment
with David Wand, a Canadian volunteer, working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor at UNAIDS in Eritrea.
We walk through Asmara and visit the railway station.
When we follow the tracks to
visit the steam sheds, we meet Tecle, the traffic manager. He tells us
that the train will make the trip from Asmara to Massawa on December 5. To
late for me, but a good opportunity for David to experience the complete
110 kilometer train ride.
On the pavement cafe of Bar
Impero we have a drink. Nursing two large bottles of mineral water, we
observe the Asmarano's walk by. The daily ritual of their passeggiata, a
gentle stroll up and down Harnet Avenue. A see-and-be seen activity for a romance,
or to meet and greet friends.
Every once and a while a child
is begging for some Nakfas "Nda Mariam". Older boys are more to
the point "Give me your money". An old man tries to sell us
coins from the Mussolini era.
A lunatic shares our table. He
asks me what I am writing about. I tell him that I am writing about him.
He wants to know what I am writing about him, and is not amused. The staff
of the Impero Bar takes care of him. He is kindly requested to order or to
Clouds fill the sky again. It
gets windy and cold. I decide to go home, before it will start to rain.
On the steps of the Catholic
Cathedral, stands a 30 year old man in a workers outfit of the Asmara Bus
Company. His eyes are almost closed. Pinned on his chest is a laminated
message in Tigrinya. I ask someone to translate the message. "Essentially
it says that he is blind, and unable to work." I leave him a ten
Patriarchate of the Eritrean
Orthodox Tewahdo Church
Warsay Street Tiravolo Asmara.
Irga Building - Tiravolo /
Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.
Fiat Tagliero Service Station -
Tiravolo / Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.
Asmara Star Hotel - Gejeret
Italian style housing - Emberemi
ENWDVA - Zoba Maekel Rahayta
Street Asmara Eritrea.
Saint Georgis Orthodox
Church - Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.
San Francesco Catholic
Church - Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.
Dogali 178 Street Gejeret
Savanah International Hotel
- Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.
Coffee ceremony with Freweini and Yodit - Asmara
Steam depot - Railway
station Asmara Eritrea.
David Wand driving the Fiat
Littorina - Railway station Asmara.
Littorina detail - Railway station Asmara.
Abandoned railway stock - Railway station Asmara.
Eritrean Railways logo - Railway station Asmara.