Friday, September 16, 2005

Classic Africa - like in the nature documentaries!

Village houses in Gash Barka (Western Eritrea)

Wide open skies, mud and straw huts, little herds of
goats running around, a few camels, acacia trees,
kites and ibises flying and whirling around, donkeys
pulling carts, colourful tribal people wandering
around, children playing in the river water, smoke
coming out of the huts, the ladies preparing coffee,
surrounded by the smell of incense, the sun burning
down, little bars and hotels, U.N. soldiers and
World Food Programme, stunted baobab trees, a small
market by the bus station, another in town, selling
bananas, tomatoes, potatoes and sisal products... and
so on...

These were some of the impressions from Barentu,
capital of Gash Barka province in the West of Eritrea,
yesterday.

The day ended spectacularly with a massive storm cloud
brewing up from the north, just as the sun was
setting. The photos (which you may get to see one day)
are amazing. We sat out on the terrace of our Unite
Family Hotel, drinking beers and watching the free
lightning show as the cloud got ever closer. The
cloudburst, when it came was a little disappointing,
but after dinner it started raining consistently, such
that this morning, the rivers were flowing again and
there was a beautiful fresh wet smell to the beautiful
green landscape.

It was an early start again (5.00 am - the day before
having been 2.30 am due to a mix-up with Charles'
alarm clock), and a very dark start as the
electricity had fallen out. We were rewarded with a
very clear view of the late night sky, Mercury just to
the side of the mighty Orion, neither of which we had
seen so far on this trip. A couple of shooting stars
added to the fun.

Again, there were tremendous views on the way back to
Agordat, Keren and Asmara, especially in the early
morning sun. We travelled along a wide flood plain,
surrounded by interesting looking hills (all craggy
and spikey), birds flying over the acacia trees smoke
coming from the round huts in the villages.

These will make for some of the more positive
impressions left by Eritrea. Truth be told, we are
really quite fed up with things here and the complete
inability to plan anything and the willingness of
people to say 'no' to any request we may have. This is
the subject (maybe) of another blog, if ever we get to
make it back onto internet. (Get the picture).

Onward plans are still unknown, but if miracle of
miracles we manage to get a ticket for the bus to
Assab on Tuesday (now that Monday was sold out behind
our backs), we may take this. The alternative is the
Sunday flight to Djibouti.

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