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Tollak & Henri in Eritrea
So much to say and yet so difficult to verbalize so many of the things we experienced.
I feel so priviledged to have been able to have this experience in this special place where so few westerners, especially Americans are ever allowed to go. And it was indeed a challenge to make this trip. When I contacted the American embassy in Eritrea a few months prior to inform them about my plans to come, they alerted me to the fact that A) 83% of Americans who applied for visas to travel to Eritrea in 2009 were rejected, and that B) there was currently a travel advisory for Americans not to travel there because of the World cup bombings in Uganda over the summer. Fortunately for me, I did have an invitation from the Asmara school to come teach, which put me on better footing, but it was still uncertain until the weeks before our departure whether my travel visa would be confirmed.
So many impressions race through my mind as I slowly come back to my western rhythm of life. Though I have the feeling at the same time that I’ve changed in some way too, though I can’t be very objective about it now. There were the seeming contradictions, like always being aware of being an outsider and different as a white person (a very enlightening experience in itself) and yet being so warmly welcomed by almost everyone there.
The fact that you are in a place that is noted for it’s lack of political and personal freedoms and yet seeing how safe Asmara is as a city, where you can walk late at night anywhere and not worry at all about being in danger. I felt much more unsafe walking around Santa Monica at night. A lot of that has to do with the Eritrean people themselves who take pride in their lawfulness. Also, women by far have the most equality of any place in Africa and were an indispensable part of their fighting force in the 30 year resistance before their liberation. And you have to take into account this incredible struggle for their freedom against enormous odds for such a long period of time when you look at the national character, which I think is really unique. In any case, it’s an experience that reminds me of how enriching it is for your character and spirit when you really go outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, and I hope to do more of it in the future.
Here are several random photos from the trip, thanks for following along everyone.
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State of Eritrea ሃገረ ኤርትራ Hagere Ertra دولة إرتريا
Anthem: Ertra, Ertra, Ertra Eritrea, Eritrea, Eritrea
Capital (and largest city) Asmara
15°20′N 38°55′E / 15.333°N 38.917°E / 15.333; 38.917
Official language(s) Tigrinya, Arabic, English Other languages Tigre, Saho, Bilen, Afar, Kunama, Nara, Hedareb,.
Ethnic groups 60% Tigrinya, 30% Tigre, 4% Afar, 3% Saho, 3% Kunama
Demonym Eritrean Government Provisional government
- President Isaias Afewerki
- From Italy November 1941
- From United Kingdom under UN Mandate 1951
- from Ethiopia de facto 24 May 1991
- From Ethiopia de jure 24 May 1993
- Total 117,600 km2 (100th)
45,405 sq mi - Water (%) 0.14%
- 2009 estimate 5,224,000 (109th)
- 2008 census 5,291,370
- Density 43.1/km2 (165th)
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
- Total $3.625 billion
- Per capita $681
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
- Total $2.117 billion
- Per capita $397
HDI (2007) steady 0.472 (low) (165th)
Currency Nakfa (ERN)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
- Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code ER
Internet TLD .er
Calling code 291
1 ,. National TV: Eritrea Television (ERI-TV)
Eritrea (play /ˌɛrɨˈtreɪ.ə/ or /ˌɛrɨˈtriːə/; Ge'ez: ኤርትራ ʾErtrā, Arabic: إرتريا Iritrīyā), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeast and east of the country has an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands are part of Eritrea. Eritrea's size is approximately 117,600 km2 (45,406 sq mi) with an estimated population of 6 million...