Massawa Eritrea - September 19th 2004
"There is not much of
interest in the mainland part of the town although this is where the
majority of the population live". But since it is my fifth visit to
Massawa since 1999, I decide to explore Edaga Berai, the part of Massawa
that is seldom visited by tourist.
I leave the hotel at 7:00 when
the temperature is still good for long walks. Near the tank monument, a taxi
offers me his service. I refuse. "I will offer you this service for
free". When I have boarded the taxi, it is clear that the driver is
looking for passengers for Asmara, later this day. But I am not
interested. "Where are you going then?" When I reply that I will
visit Edaga Berai, the answer is clear. We are in Edaga Berai, so there
will be no need for a taxi.
Since the travel guide says
there is nothing special here, I decide just to snake through the streets
and leave the main road behind as far as possible. The houses change into
structures of wood, plastic, corrugated iron and ropes.
It is then that I am reminded
to the fact that it is the people that make Eritrea so special. Every 500
meters I pass a house where I am invited for tea, or water. And quite
different from my experience on the Batse island last night, it is the
usual Eritrean hospitality. No business proposals, or hidden motives. Just
nice chats and people that is interested in your interest for the area,
proud to have you as their guest.
Women in beautiful colored
dresses, contrasting with the wooden fences around the houses. Men in
their white robes. Camels carrying merchandise. Children, excited to see a
white man. "UN, UN!" It is obvious that tourist are rare in this
area. I watch the tankers depositing water into large barrels stationed
along the roadsides.
I decide to stay a bit longer
and to visit the eastern part of this area (that is split by the Massawa -
Asmara road) as well. In a mini mini market, I order a coke. I am offered
a small stool. The guest should have a seat. They ask for my nationality. And
when they hear that I am Dutch, it is even better. The Eritreans like to watch
football and know many famous Dutch football players. "Kluivert, van
Nistelrooy". Some boys ask me if I can arrange them to play football
in the Netherlands. I can't.
At 14:00 I have seen it all,
and the temperature has risen to 35 C. I planned my walk to end at the bus
station, where a modern Mitsubishi mini bus is waiting to take us to
Asmara. I claim a seat, using my luggage and wait outside, eating some
water-melon sold in small stalls at the Massawa bus station.
At the stop-over in Ghinda I
have an egg-burger for lunch. When I try to picture the kids selling
peanuts, they all hide. Except one. I reward her courage with ten Nakfa.
She doesn't understand. Why give ten Nakfa? She returns to the bus when we
leave. The passenger next to me translates. "She came back to say
thank you. And she asks if you can put her name to the picture. Her name
is Gemila Edris from Ghinda".
Back in Asmara, I have my
shoes polished in one of the many stalls. It is time to reverse the
dehydration process, so I return to Selas Bar near the traditional Souk
behind the mosque. I used to visit this bar in May this year and Freweini
even remembers my favorite drink, Asmara Stout beer. Good taste,
vitamines and two bottles for a dollar. A good reason to
take some extra vitamines.
Small scale trade (Red Sea salt),
Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Carrying goods to the market, Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Camel carrying wood, Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Woman selling textiles, Edaga
Berai - Massawa
Senait, lady bartender, Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Bar and fast food restaurant, Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Men selling soft drinks on the
streets of Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Fashion shop, Edaga Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Men producing stretchers, Edaga
Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Small grocery Shop, Edaga
Berai - Massawa Eritrea.
Gemila Edris, "Please
don't forget to add my name" - Ghinda Eritrea.