Eritrea 2018 - 7: Camels, Donkey and Bike Racing (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Eritrea 2018 - 6: End of the Line (50 p.)

Video for this series:

October 24 2018

Wednesday morning at Nefasit: What's the Eritrean national sport? Of course - cycling!

Cyclists are such a common occurrence on the relatively well-paved main road Asmara - Massawa, this meeting did not have to be staged.

Perfect shadow.

A tough climb starts at the football pitch, with constant altitude training around 7000 ft. An Eritrean already wore the polka dot jersey during the Tour de France 2015.

Road traffic is slightly more relaxed than in comparable countries - still, every help is welcome.

Morning water run.

We switched places with other group members for this view from above.

A DAF 200-400 (developed from the Leyland Sherpa) in minibus service on the main road. Long distance traffic is the domain of modern buses (you need permits to travel to any other part of the country, the next checkpoint into this direction is situated before reaching Massawa), city bus line 29 operated from Asmara centre to Arbaroba with Chinese vehicles. New lorries - including the common ore tippers – also have all been imported from China.

We returned to the station and boarded the train. The condition of 442.54 deteriorated constantly, a washout plug was leaking. That's why the crew only dared to take the goods wagons into the lovely landscape around tunnel 10.

Female track workers in front of the slightly slant tunnel portal.

Panorama during the first run-past.

Then the ladies posed for us.

Uphill towards Nefasit.

A donkey raced the train.

Peacefully grazing while the loco was rolling backwards...

... but as soon as it steamed uphill, the race was on again! See video from minute 10:50.

Amidst the grove of surreal acacias - twice as wide as they are tall.

Nefasit suburbs.

Someone had found an alternative use for metal sleepers.

Panoramic view into the mountains.

We relaxed inside the uncoupled passenger carriage during lunch break in Nefasit.

The blue lorry delivered coal for the loco. In the meantime, the decision had been made to exchange the engine. A replacement class 442 was supposed to have departed from Asmara.

The omnipresent elephant bags.

After 1 p.m., an obligatory photo session was scheduled. We walked towards the mosque - with photographic exchange.

Camels (I know - dromedaries) and railway are a must in Eritrea! In the meantime, we heard that the other loco was supposed to have departed Asmara.

The guys with guns and batons can't be missed.

A Christian priest approaching from the Orthodox church.

Those two did not own the camels themselves, they coincidentally passed by so we hired them as extras and paid them.

The actual owner of the animals was wearing relatively unphotogenic T-shirt and shorts.

After 3 p.m., we were notified that the replacement loco was departing Asmara now. 442.54 steamed uphill single engine.

At least I could take this picture.

The engineering future of Eritrea is secured (if he stays in the country - later, someone actually asked me if I would take them with me in my suitcase).
In case you cannot afford a football - a stall nearby even offered one in Barça-design - just kick a stuffed sack.

Our live savers this week - selling beer and other liquids on the train, some days providing sandwiches for lunch. Popcorn is a popular snack.
Around four o'clock - after we had decided it was futile to wait for the replacement engine - we enjoyed a cup of Eritrean coffee (roasted with ginger).

As the bus climbed towards Arbaroba, we were presented with a lovely wildlife surprise: Hamadryas baboons are native to the Horn of Africa and nearby tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
More about these fascination primates:

We closed the windows as the the imposing male approached.

What... ... if we could do something lineside the following day, you will learn next time! ;0) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to