Sunday 29 October 2017: We had our first taste of Eritrean public transport today as we took a bus from Asmara to Keren some 91 km north of Asmara (approx. a 3 hour journey). While we waited for the bus to depart (which seemed entirely dependent on when the bus driver felt like hopping on board), we watched the endless stream of hawkers come on the bus plying their wares.
As expected, there were people selling drinks and others selling pastries, nuts and other snacks for the journey ahead. More unusually though, also on sale were brooms and even a full set of kitchen utensils (pans, serving spoons, sieves etc): mind you that would have gone nicely with the bags of dried pasta that were also available together with the 1kg bags of salt. Given we weren’t in fact sure when (or maybe if) the bus was going to leave, it was not beyond the realms of possibility that we would in fact have time to make a full meal!
Finally we left the bus station with a completely full compliment of passengers only to stop immediately outside of the walls of the bus station and take on about 30% more passengers. Disappointingly no chickens or other livestock on this bus journey but am sure they will be our fellow travelling companions at some stage during this trip.
Later on in the day we ended up in a small village (having done a short hike) and the only way out was by minibus but of course that was not going to leave until it was absolutely full. However, given it was mid-afternoon already, there was no way of telling how many other people were going our way. In the end therefore we did a “contract hire” of the whole minibus only to find that as soon as we started moving they took on lots more (fare paying) passengers anyway. Que sera – we had anticipated that this would be the case as the same had happened to us on previous trips (in Albania) but better than sitting two hours waiting for minibus to fill up and move.