Eritrea 2018 - 6: End of the Line (50 p.)

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ronik24

Proud Earthling
#1
Hi,



To the previous part of the series:
Eritrea 2018 - 5: Downhill to Nefasit (50 p.)
http://www.railroadforums.com/forum/index.php?threads/eritrea-2018-5-downhill-to-nefasit-50-p.13953



Video for this series:




October 23 2018

We return to Nefasit station - at 5600 ft already in warmer climate - for a first run-past. Clouds were building up at the eastern mountain range, otherwise it was sunny.














The Eritrean railway is not only interesting due to its spectacular mountain section, it also offers a densely packed microcosm - only 15 railway miles from Asmara - of various landscapes and cultures. Nefasit already partly reminded me of Sudan. Once more you can recognize the creative second life of sawn-off yellow canisters.














The open-air barber still was busy behind the donkey.



















Voilà: the classic mosque-view. Experienced Eritrea-travellers told us that they never had seen the country in such full bloom (not metaphorically).




Next, we boarded the train and rolled downhill towards Embatkalla, Ghinda and Massawa - none of which could be reached.
A camel encounter at the northern end of Nefasit station (no worries, camel and train to come next time!).









The little ones in bright green school uniforms greeted us happily - only one wanted more pencils.




View into the valley at the end of which the main road Massawa - Asmara meets the rail line at a level crossing. Behind it lies tunnel #9 supposed to be flooded as track workers had told us.
In the foreground once more yellow canisters in use, almost every shed seemed to be equipped with a satellite dish.




I enjoyed the ride on the platform of the passenger carriage.




And liked the landscape exceptionally well (no worries, more to come next time!).




The train passed by a group of female track workers (no worries, more to come next time!).




Tunnel #10 could be traversed without hindrance, then we crossed the main road and stopped in front of tunnel 9. A group explored the line further downhill on foot. Some small rocks and sand were strewn around the track obviously due to recent rains, but they did not pose any problems for the train to pass. We kicked aside whatever we came across. No obstructions could be found within tunnel 9. As we entered tunnel 8, we spotted a small section covered in mud, but it could have been cleared by shovel in a matter of hours. Thomas and the train master walked on towards Embatkalla to keep an eye out for further damage to the tracks.




We let the train roll back to the entrance of temporarily blocked tunnel 8 and arranged run-pasts alone with the train crew - the command to depart was "andiamo!".









The second spot - standing above tunnel 9 - invited a telephoto lens-compressed sandwich.




Thomas returned and showed us pictures of the spot where the line actually was severely interrupted - washed out underneath with rails almost hanging in the air.




Next, we steamed through tunnel 9.




Yes! It's a photo charter through Africa!




Subsequently, the engine had troubles departing uphill with lots of wheelslip, rolling back several times.




At least we made it to the main road, then the ride was over for now. The vegetation here was significantly denser with some bushes carrying thorns like toothpicks. A Fiat 180 lorry hauled a container down to the port of Massawa.




The loco had to depart on its own to take water at Nefasit. This image is an allegory for the current situation: A container being transported on the road along the railway which would be predestined for this kind of traffic. Maersk containers with donated tools already had been transported once by rail to Asmara.




442.54 steamed into the mountain landscape.




We were left to stare at it - not that you could complain about the view.




The crew notified us that they had to build the fire completely anew, apart from taking water. As the sun would definitely have disappeared by then, we boarded the buses which had joined us in the meantime. The road winds itself up the mountain in several switchbacks above Nefasit, here a view from the bus window towards the station and single loco.




The road changes to the western side of the mountain ridge which the railway only reaches at Arbaroba.




The Eritrean mountainous country simply is breathtakingly beautiful.







October 24 2018

Next morning before 7:30 a.m., we curved downhill to Nefasit.




As the town still was in the shade, we walked to the first photo spot after taking a group shot in front of the engine.




The archangel Michael guards this Eritrean-Orthodox church.




The sunlight crept into the valley during the first run-past. I had to virtually expose some of the drive wheels of the loco in the foreground.




Panoramic view including church and mosque.




In some pictures, I did the chore of removing satellite dishes - dozens in some cases.









Rolling backwards past a decorated house.




Biblical scenes in front of the church.









Next, we captured the departure from the station standing on the opposite mountainside - also note the small red dots practising the national sport (no worries, more to come next time!).




In the meantime, a donkey had taken up the sport of running on the tracks ahead of the train (no worries, more to come next time!).









Panorama including football pitch and church to the right.




Of course - yellow canisters also serve as flower pots!




"Abu Salama - human life above all" can be read in Arabic on the famous dolphin picture. Behind it, an info board just in Tigrinya from the ministry of health and a brigade of road workers.
"Abusalama" meaning "dolphin" is the name of the national condom brand. The subject is supposed to raise AIDS awareness.

Background information about the origins of the name, the early Muslims and their migration to Abyssinia - then the Kingdom of Aksum, including the area of modern-day Eritrea - can be found here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migration_to_Abyssinia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Aksum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Salama_Abd_Allah_ibn_Abd_al-Asad_al-Makhzumi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umm_Salama





Next, we took up position on the road bridge (no worries, more to come next time! ;0)).
 



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