Getting to a whole new world
After some long hours of flying over Eastern Europe and then from Cairo (where I had 5h time but no Egyptian Pounds to spend on food) over the Nile River I landed in Asmara around 4.00 a.m. yesterday. The whole flight was more of a family Reunion. At the Cairo International Airport, Gate F3, in the very back of the Terminal a crowd of Eritreans and friends gathered. The Flight-attendant smiled at me as if he was waiting just for my person to get onboard. Maybe he has some of the spirit of 1993, when Eritreans proudly showed the world their freed country: Come and have a look, this is free Eritrea! The plane is not full, even though it is going only twice a week to Asmara. Most people have foreign passports (e.g. UK) and it seems they are just going to the country of their ancestors to bring flat-screen TVs and some Western fashion. A baby is crying the whole flight and the few hours of sleep are hence taken form my by this future generation, God bless it for being so lively. Once the mother stood up with the sweet loud being in her arms, its head banged big time against the overhead-compartments. It smiled at me before dozing off into the land of dreams. Thus, I am able to fill out in relative silence one of the hundred forms after crossing the windy airfield. Did I really make it? Yes! I am in Africa. I set foot on the land of Eritrea, I am here!
Due to the current influenca-pandemia, we all had to fill out even more forms on our health (a procedure I smartly avoided in Cairo by being faster than the police). In addition, all exchange has to be declared at entry into Eritrea and when I’m leaving I have to proof that I left not a single bill of foreign currency inside the country apart form the official exchange offices. I could probably be very rich changing the money on the street, but I followed the rules (since I am such a straight German *g*) and changed it officially. Further, all electronics had to be declared at entry (including the Serial number of my Mobile Phone and Laptop!) to make sure I leave nothing behind. I had to declare my place of staying in Eritrea but the address “German Embassy” was sufficient. It’s good to be an “official person” in a relatively small city.
To a person that is used to travel inside Europe a lot and by this just having my ID card (which nobody cares about) while crossing borders, this whole procedure was scary and strange. But think about it twice, there is a reason for everything. Well, almost everything. The last thing was giving my passport to a man to check it and the Visa. Then to give it to a second man (2m behind the first one) to check if it is me on the picture and wish me a wonderful stay. And then give it to a third man (approx. 0.8m behind the second one) to check if I am on some list which I am – fortunately – not. I don’t mind, all of them were very friendly (at that time of the day!).
I will write more about my Apartment and my workplace when I have more time in the following weeks.