Massawa - December 4 2009
In the early morning, when
temperatures are still moderate, I walk some seven kilometers on the road
to Asmara up to the 14 arch railway bridge crossing the Obel river.
I pass the Massawa Housing
Complex, other new built residential houses and offices, abandoned railway equipment
and after a few kilometers, the EPLF Martyrs Cemetary. When I reach the
bridge, I take some rest before returning to Massawa.
When I walk back a Toyota mini
bus stops next to me, offering me a ride for 100 Nakfa. I tell the driver
that I prefer to walk. "But it is far" he says. I tell him that
I know, because I started my walk in Massawa this morning.
The driver than offers me a
ride for 50 Nakfa, but I don't need his services, because I need the exercise,
and 50 Nakfa is still almost twice the price for the ticket from Asmara to
I walk through the Kutmiya district,
a shanty town with wooden houses on the left of the road to Asmara.
For a moment, I wonder what I
am doing here, as a tourist. The answer comes immediately. I see a large
bag filled with breads in front of a makeshift shop. I found my breakfast.
I buy one of the breads. The women offer me a small stool to sit on,
and a can filled with cool water, mixed with a powder called
"Tank" and lots of sugar to give it an orange taste.
When I want to reward her and
draw my wallet, she refuses "No! Gifti!". It wettens my eyes. A
gift from a poor shopkeeper to a tourist staying in the most expensive
hotel in Massawa. I have to remember the place, to bring her a nice "gifti"
next time I visit Massawa.
In the early afternoon I take
the bus back to Asmara. Not the best time to travel, but I do not want to
spend another night in the heat, and my permit for Massawa already expired
When I arrive at the bus
station, the "Asmara, Asmara!" directs me to the bus. I have one
of the last seats, and the bus leaves a few minutes later. The remaining
seats are for the passengers waiting on the road to Asmara.
Three hours later, I am in
Asmara, where enjoy fruit juices, cappuccinos, and mini pizza's. It is
nice to be back in the moderate Asmara climate.
I check my e-mail in the TSE
Cyber cafe, next to the Telecommunications office, and visit some friends
and family to say goodbye.
With Kibreab I have the
remaining vitamins in Rita's Bar Gurgusum in Harnet Avenue. I exchange
telephone numbers, addresses en gifts with Rita, for her family in The
Netherlands. Rita leaves her bar for a minute and comes back with some
fresh roasted peanuts, for the customers, and a special saucer for me.
Rita knows how to keep a bar
and make the visitors feel at home. She hops from customer to customer,
having a few words and fun with all of them. I noticed that Bar Gurgusum
is crowded when Rita is in, and almost empty when she is resting.
Drinking with Kibreab means an
overdose of vitamins. "Saba told me to take good care of Hans, when
he is in Eritrea" he says. Saba is Kibreab's sister, and one my wife's best
girlfriends, which means that Kibreab is almost my brother, or at least
one of my best friends.
Fishermen between the
mangroves - Massawa Eritrea.
Massawa housing complex -
Mosque - Edaga Berai Massawa
Aquafresh depot - Massawa
Exit to Gurgusum beaches -
Abandoned railway equipment
- Massawa Eritrea.
Patriots cemetary - Massawa
Post office - Edaga Berai
Carrying firewood to the
market - Edaga Berai Massawa Eritrea.
Tea bar in an abandoned USSR
aircraft - Bus terminal Massawa Eritrea.
Bus terminal and apartments
under construction - Massawa Eritrea.