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Coming to realise that I am never going to get round to writing a proper, thoughtful post about Eritrea (as I mentioned last year after my Armenia trip, travel-related stories take quite a long time to percolate, for me), so I’m just going to fling some photos at you and run away.



One of the best preserved modernist cities in the world, built by Italian colonists; at a high enough altitude that the weather is pleasantly crisp; excellent coffee, label-less beer (because there’s only the one kind, so why would you need a label?), good pizza and fantastic ice cream. City of dreams; would move there in a heartbeat.


Playing dominoes outside the national theatre.


Facade of the central pharmacy.


Recycling market – the only one I’ve ever seen, anywhere.

Fiat Tagliero, Asmara

Fiat Tagliero garage, one of the most astonishingly gorgeous and classy buildings I’ve seen in my life.

Bottle roof

Between Asmara and Filfil: another excellent demonstration of Eritrean recycling and ingenuity (this was the roof of a cafe).


At Filfil, between Asmara and Massawa, we were invited to join two separate picnics. Filfil is where Eritrean liberation fighters would receive political instruction before going off to train at Nakfa.


Bridge on the outskirts of Massawa.


Eritrea’s second city, Massawa is on the coast and very different from Asmara; it reminded me a lot more of places elsewhere on the east coast of Africa, like Lamu or Zanzibar, or even Oman, which has had a major influence in this part of the world. Massawa has many things:


Revolutionary murals…


Crumbling colonial buildings on islands…

Massawa memorial

Monuments with tanks on them…


And access to the Dahlak Islands, where we went next.


Fishing for supper


Afar family on the islands


Driftwood fence, Dissei Island

Took an alternative route back to Asmara, along the old railway.


And then to Keren, primarily known to me and Clare as the town that gives its name to one of Juba’s premier hotels.


The real Keren, it turns out, is cradled by mountains and does a very good line in sunsets.


Not to mention camel markets:


And war cemeteries:


It was a truly magnificent trip, though there was a large element of cognitive dissonance, travelling around a country which seems pleasant and well developed and full of reasonably happy people, while simultaneously being one of the world’s largest refugee producing countries. I don’t for a moment doubt the asylum claims of Eritreans elsewhere, but I also don;t doubt the lived experience of the Eritreans I met in Eritrea. Turns out the world is complicated! WHO KNEW.


Written by Jess

July 31, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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