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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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