Sunday, September 18, 2005

At home with Hana and family

Asmara - piazza
Fiat Tagliero
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
We met us with Hana at Pasticceria Moderna at 10 am as agreed and had a tea/cappuccino before walking with Hana to her home. We were not so sure about this as it seemd that she slept at the hotel, but as it turns out her family lives in the East of Asmara and she goes there every morning after sleeping at the hotel (she has evenig shift and stays until the bar closes at midnight- 2 am.

Well, at home, we were treated first to large helpings of enjera and sauce (hot - tomato, onion, pepper (lots) and meat - no garlic, it seems).

Then we were treated to the coffee making ceremony... first stoking up the chgarcoal, roasting the beans, crushing the beans, puting them and the water into the earthenware coffee pot, heating it up, waiting til the coffee spurts up, then letting it rest and putting some sponge in the spout as a filter before pouring it out continuously into three cups. This was repeated three times: it was impolite of us to refuse the third (very strong, but delicious) cup of coffee.

Then some more enjera.. and again we were not allowed to refuse.

In the meantime, we had met Hana's two sisters, mother and father and, finally her brother. He spoke very good English and he told us a bit about his family's situation. They were expelled from Addis Ababa, where they ahd all grown up, when the war re-started between Ethiopia dn Eritrea in 1999, as they were Eritrean nationals, despite speaking Amharic and not Tigrinya (the national language of Eritrea). They lost everything and had to start new lives in Asmara.

No-one in Eritrea can get an exit visa unles sthey are above 40 (or go for work), so they are stuck here in a country where there is no freedom of speech, no democracy, no free press, little work and where the government prefers everyone to have just enough money to buy food and nothing else.

Very sad, because the governemnet is laregly the people who gave the country independence from Ethiopia. But what price independence when you become so afraid of opposition that you lock them all up, get help from the United Nations, lose your allies in Europe and live in conflict with your most important neighbour.

Eritrea and Ethiopia would both mutually benefit from peace, where they could both use the ports of Massawa and Assab (access to Red Sea ports being the main bone of contention).

Anyway, after internal politics it was time for a chat about the Premiership... it seems that young Eritrean men are avid followers of English football, and indeed Cinema Impero invariably has an evening slot open to show live (or almost live) English football.. tomorrow they can watch Arsenal vs Everton.

So, it was a delightful day we spent with the family and as it turned out, Fred's girlfriend was not Annemiek but Esther - but that is another story and we have written more than enough.

Sorry about the inappropriate photo, but I deleted the only one I took of coffee 'ceremonies'.

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