Pleasantly surprised and rare feeling to be among such happy, wonderful and welcoming people. Clearly elated with the new peace between Eritrean and Ethiopia. Whether on the foot, driving in the city or highway. People are very cordial.
Last time I was here was about 23 years ago. But it felt like yesterday. Nothing has changed. Time has stopped still. Asmara is clean, quiet and uniquely beautiful architecture. Asmara, aka little Itally, was recently recognized by UNESCO as a heritage site. New and future development can bee seen in clusters on the outskirts of the city. With their own micro dam -brilliant.
17.20 Nakfa to 1 EUR. 15.20 Nakfa for $1. Hotels (2-3 star) were between $80-150. Poor internet bandwidth/speed. Especially during daylight hours. Stores seemed bare. Hard to imagine there was less inventory before Dr Abey came to visit. Prices have gone down by 50%! Life is expensive here. A great opportunity to ignite brisk trade between the two countries.
With Ethiopian passport or green-card. One can travel to Eritrea by air. As of today, permits are required from both counties to enter by road. All foreigners must get a visa from the respective countries. Visas are not issued at the airport or borders. FERENGIS in Addis would love to visit. However the Eritrean Embassy is not yet functioning yet. I hope this will be fixed soon -fee money!
We should learn from this very frugal existence. Very few wide bodies. Eating and drinking is clearly not a entertainment.
The GEBEYA (market place) was very active on Saturday. The structure resembles Addis's MERKATO-ADARASH. Except much neater and orderly. The few beggars we encountered were not obnoxious.
Unless you are a commercial trucker. You cannot buy Diesel. So there is a grey-market (blatant black-market). Probably due to weak demand the supply of Benzene is irregular. Which also supports the grey-market.
Both daily flights on ET, from ADD to ASM, were full. Appear to sell-out a week in advance. The737 flew too high to recognize sites on the ground. Probably just a well to stay above the Bombardier traffic below. On the other-hand, I wish we were at a lower altitude. Cursing 20K feet above the Ethiopian plateau is a feast to the eyes.
Asmara airport was quite. Only one other functioning aircraft -unmarked. A couple of mouth-balled 737s, half a dozen dust covered migs and single engine aircraft abandoned at the edge of the tarmac. On our departure there was an Eritrean Air 737 that just returned from Jedda. And a couple of Massawa Air Fokkers...