It's 05:30 clock. In Asmara, capital of Eritrea, a portly old steam train starts to move slowly. The first soft light of dawn spreads out on the horizon. We leave the train depot. The dark silhouettes decrypt before the pastel sky high mountain ranges and forests. The high level of Eritrea, located at 2300 m awake. The locomotive wheezes past rusted tanks and old crates with bullet holes. Bald spots on the hillsides look like scars the long liberation war has left in the landscape. For years, there is no regular train service on this route more. Only when tourists come, the old locomotives from the 20's, which were brought by the Italians in Eritrea, fueled and stomp along the breathtaking route. This week a group of tourists arrived from Germany. Zugenthusiasten see the faces of the morning still tired. There is not much talk. But if the old engine has reached the selected site, all are tight and focused on their position in order to catch a possible perfect picture. Quality functional clothing and camera equipment are used here. Seconds count. Seconds in which the light must tune the position of the railways and the settings of the camera.Rolf, top 40, from Bielefeld stands in khakis and blue checkered shirt ready with 2 cameras around their necks. He's taken only been short on railway fever. "It's so much like an athlete when the whistle is blown or the rep says photo stop, then you are … in providing So as loud if it would:.. ready, steady, , go. Then, the "run" going to the best places. Most are so disciplined that they think with. But one or two always fall out of the frame or stand in the way. They are then very selfish. then scans the one . neighborhood look where the position where you want to go, since runs up to and then has to fit everything… foreground, middle ground, background and the locomotive must of course the center of the image to be so I'm not a bitter railwaymen, the now only shoot images must. I also have fun around the drum. " The Zugenthusiasten scrutinize their photos, while the locomotive is easy to roll back to the second Ride, better start taking pictures. The sun rises majestically from behind the giant mountains. This is the most important moment. The ideal light. Zugenthusiasten The stand like chamois on the mountainside, well camouflaged, attentive and full of excitement. It is hardly spoken. Highest concentration. the most important morning light is over. Now it is high time for the first water stop the locomotive. Since all track facilities were destroyed during the war, one makes do with a simple solution. On a stone bridge before driving a tanker. He lets down a tube, it provides the engine with water below.Fascinated by the simple idea to look the picture hunter and keep everything photographically. The railroaders seem to be accustomed to it. Herbert, a cozy Swiss with gray hair and beard has enough photographed and is packing his camera with an oversized lens acting in his backpack. He works for the Swiss Railway and has already been on many train there. "It's all about, that we can take pictures of the train is in motion and that forward and not backward, if possible. And that is what is the fascination. and (as you've now seen) with passengers … with real passengers. If it is found only. But it should at least look as if the train would go still in regular operation. When I photograph one regular train at our home . He comes once and then it's over. And here he goes back and just come back and if the photos are anything then it goes back again. And so is repeated throughout the day, so take days 12 hours almost without interruption. Slowly we then hunger and thirst or desire for a beer.now already have about 3000 pictures that I made during the five days. which is roughly estimated that half cleared. This gives day-long work to sift sort out and . " The tour guide Bernd Seiler from Berlin is the sixth time in Eritrea. He knows the different surviving locomotives and Zugmitarbeiter spot very well.For its tourist groups a charterer complete trains: time with local extras on board and sometimes only with freight cars. Everything should look as authentic as possible. Bernd Seiler recalled, started as a passion for steam engines, then, as a child: "The steam locomotive of course has a special appeal, especially when one is smaller than the driving wheels of an express train, the 2 at a field day the 1975th meters or less and I might 1.50 m or 1.40 m or something. And there it was extremely impressive how the machines with 120km / h is chased through the rails. And as we have gone, it was just standing still in front of the train and because we've run as little boys there before and have been able to absorb the whole atmosphere and the sounds and the smell of the steam engine. And that coined. behave like the animals. Actually it is an ordinary machine that will pull trains. But just as other people fondling their bikes or their car there are just people who are fascinated by something larger machines. also are not uniform, but very individual. No steam is like the other. Some go very gently and softly . Others rather rough and gruff, the clearances are different, the settings you at the controls are all doing something different. And you have your own character of these machines. you actually behave differently. " With freshly filled water tanks moved the old locomotive leisurely pace on the track. 'Regularly deafening hiss of steam from the axles. On the right side there is suddenly a hundred meters steeply into the abyss. In the valleys are still thick clouds carpets begin using solar power just dissolve. A stunning and seemingly untouched landscape stretches out before us. Surprisingly, there is also a woman in the party. Beate accompanies her husband Lars and has begun even before the short films. "My colleagues are happy when I tell you where I'll drive. You can also find it fascinating, but she would never do it myself. We have to be quiet short, the train comes, I want to shoot. " "My friend has made many tours before and I found the always interesting what he has shown for pictures. He was in regions where one else as a normal tourist does not come down so. And as I've said , I really want to smell of Myanmar and since I was the first time on a train ride and got a rat. For me it's more to travel, to see the country and it has to shoot sometime fun. I not only wanted stand and watch it, but I wanted to photograph the railroad. But for me, traveling is more important than the railroad. combination is interesting. authentic There are trains in Eritrea and the track is not so new to built with interlocking as which is in Germany. why this is an interesting country to visit. " Gradually, more and more children come to the view points of Zugenthusiasten. You already know the procedure and enjoy the quirky variety to their daily lives. The poverty of this country is immediately apparent. Torn clothes, shoes too small when considering the fabric and plastic residue on the feet can speak of shoes. Some children only wear a torn underpants. For the children there is something special, to see tourists in their country, because so far hardly Eritrea opens its doors to the world. The children enjoy small pieces of Swiss chocolate Herbert or pens that have brought Beate and her friend Lars from Germany. After money is not asked here. Herbert is the second time in Eritrea. "I like it better, because I met a lot of people back, which I then got to know and this is a good experience for me and for the people also . I brought them photos. And I have also promised that I send them the new images. My friends can not understand so so good … So some. The rather go somewhere on vacation, where you can swim. Where it is not as exotic as now Eritrea. " Most members of the group for the first time in this little-known African country. A country that is after a checkered history, and after 30 years of liberation war against Ethiopia in 1993 finally became independent. The railroad is thanks to the former colonial masters Italy. The Italians made Asmara the capital and joined them by the railroad with the commercial city of Massawa on the Red Sea.When the British expelled the now fascist colonialists, they dismantled much of the infrastructure of the country and shipped them to other British colonies. In the 60s came Eritrea by UN resolution under Ethiopian administration. Back then there were the railroad yet, even if they no longer regularly drove. With the start of the Revolutionary War seemed their fate was sealed. has "The railroad was dismantled in 1975 to 1990 almost completely. The rails were used for the bunker in the liberation war and the whole material was scattered to the winds. After independence (1991), the new Government decided to build this railroad again and indeed with the material. And they made that about 120 kilometers of Massawa on the Red Sea is up to Asmara. The track just spectacular. you come from sea level of Massawa and after some 120 kilometers one has reached 2300 meters altitude. She squirms so along the hillsides, through tunnels and canyons. A masterpiece of the former owners. "this reconstruction, the government has a so-called "initiated project of national unity". She has former engineers, drivers and point-goers out of retirement. Meanwhile, the ancients have given their knowledge to the young people on. Thomas, the young tour guide from Eritrea accompanied the tour group during their stay. He coordinates the trains with the drivers and takes care of all the issues and problems of travelers. With his incredibly patient manner, he has an ear for everyone. In the meantime, he must quietly bridge constantly balancing act between the travelers from the West and the government. Everything has run smoothly. "Generally between 10 to 15 groups come to Eritrea and most of them are train enthusiasts. The Germans are crazy with photos. They take too much time taking photos." In addition to the rail shall be other tours offered. For example, the famous cattle market of Keren. Even here, the cameras and hold camels, sheep, goats and horses. The group is pleased that guide Bernd Seiler has received such a reduction. That it worked out, Thomas is due to the phone for days after the visa has her, which is required for the two-hour drive from Asmara to Keren. "The government supports tourism in general … The government does the permit thing for the safety of the tourist in general. Since foreigners are spending money here, and time, the government wants each and every one of them on the save side and secure, with no problems. That's why they do the permit restrictions. " Eritrea behaves in many ways contradictory. From the euphoric dawn of independence become an almost complete standstill has become. Contacts with the international community are limited to a minimum and are not really desired.Klaus from the German travel group found even deterioration: "So I am now the second time in Eritrea, I was in 2003 to talk and wanted to see how things have changed and I must say, it has actually relatively few. changed and not necessarily for the better. 2003, it had more freedom than today. travel freedoms. To go to Keren, you did not need permission. The only thing that was considered restricted area was to Ethiopia border. But that is known. " On the two-hour return trip to Asmara overcomes the bus very steep and narrow switchbacks. Slowly building up. Inconceivable that it should have been earlier in this part of a railroad. hold upon a vast plain on a tank graveyard where old war vehicles rust slowly and quietly to himself. The wind blows through the bullet holes of the vehicles. Silence. Destroyed bridges and rails ending in nothingness meet us again and again. "We must clearly distinguish between ordinary people. as the railroad and the Staff and the political line of the country's political and if you are disregarded, one can so good live. One should not as a political activist trying to change the situation there … You have to, if you go to these countries, to come to terms with the situation, otherwise you will not be happy. " At the checkpoint before Asmara, where actually the Passiergenehmigung controlled stands, late at night no more checkpoints.Nobody wants to see our permits. The Zugenthusiasten begin to think about how many police officers or soldiers, they have actually seen a week in Eritrea.They can be counted on one hand. The reality speaks a different language than the coverage in Germany suggests. Thomas from Frankfurt has been like almost all explained here by friends and family crazy when he announced a tour to Eritrea: "But that's always the case with the people who stay at home, the country only know from the newspaper's. rule were the countries always at its best, where people have warned most before to go there. When you hear what's in newspapers, have the whole country to be here infested kampfeswütigen partisans. I remember nothing about it. Friendly people, everything is good. one of the most beautiful countries that I know here in Africa. "
Software Translation from German