Monday, July 23, 2007

It's a family affair in HOT Massawa

July 22-23, 2007.

With 7 kids and 6 adults, we set out very early for Massawa, the port city by the Red Sea.

I won't elaborate much more except to say that this road trip was full of twisty-turny roads, gorgeous mountain passes and sand dunes, lots of music and laughter, and plenty of pee and barf stops :)

The best thing about travelling with children is that everything is new to them too.

It's exciting, it's adventurous and just plain fun.

For the most part, the Eritrean coast (unlike the Egyptian one) has remained wild and very much untouched.

Despite being only 100 km east of Asmara, Massawa has a completely different vibe, very much influenced by the countries and connections with Arabia across the Sea.

I would assume this would be the place where resorts and hotels would be built once tourism picks up in the country. It really is gorgeous.

The moment we arrived, we all jumped into the sea.

It was like paddling in warm bath water in a very large bathtub.

For one of the kids, Nigisty (Ghebre's niece), it was her first time ever to see the ocean and her first attempt at swimming.

Shocked to see so much water in one area, she asked us where it all came from. Good question.

She was very courageous and extremely persistent in the water and by the second day, she was kicking and doing the front crawl like she had been swimming all her life!

What a joy to see! See Nigisty holding Ruta in the pic.

That night we had a delicious meal of Yemeni fresh fish.

It is sprinkled with hot pepper and baked in a tandoori oven. Divine!

Over bottles of cold beer (which little Yohanna took quite a liking to!) we had a family of cats gather at our feet, waiting for us to drop the fish bones.

Early the next morning, with all the kids already in the water, Ghebre and Haileb took us into Massawa town to see some of the city.

Despite being a dusty port city, the town has some incredible Islamic architecture (although most of it is deteriorating and crumbling).

See pic of the 3 tanks that were captured by the Eritreans during the Struggle for Independence.

Due to Massawa's tumultuous history, where it was occupied by the Portuguese, Arabs, Turks, Egyptians, British and Italians, it saw everything from pearls to giraffes to ostriches to slaves pass through its port.

During the Struggle, nearly 90% of the town was bombed by Ethiopia.

Restoration is slow and walking down the small alleyways, you get a haunting feeling thinking about what happened just a few years ago.

What i found quite pleasing were the many beautiful murals painted on the main roads.

They all depicted images of the Struggle, of community, of family and of freedom and hope. Very inspiring.

After a last swim, wash and injera lunch, we called in on Nigisty's cousin before making our way back home. But not before the traditional coffee ceremony!

All in all, the trip was a memorable and fun event.

I've posted lots of pictures of the kids, mainly because they were such a big part of the trip and also because i think they have got to be some of the most beautiful children I've ever met.

About an hour away from Asmara, we took a final family picture (minus Nigisty who was taking the photo).

Here, we took one last bathroom break and pulled on our long trousers and shirts; we were leaving the 40+ degree heat and entering the low cool lands once again.

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