Thu 22 Apr
The next day I journey on, first dropping out of the highlands back into the all-too-familiar Sahel, I am travelling in the wrong direction but I want to see the continuity from the Sudanese lowlands as if I have entered Eritrea from the land border.
The provincial town of Barentu in the west of Eritrea is having its main street rebuilt. It’s not until the evening "rush hour" that I realise how much traffic there is. I’m sure more than 30 white Toyota Land Cruisers blaze their way through leaving clouds of dust. Children make their way back from school. Muslim men get ready for prayers. An enormous earth-mover is driven confidently by a young woman. "Fight together, work together" used to be appropriate but I am assured that now women are increasingly being forced back into traditional roles. Barentu is hot and dusty. It lies in a plain surrounded by dry looking acacia trees. There’s one good hotel, only one hotel for me (I’m assured by a local). They ask for 100 Nakfa which seems extortionate (more than Asmara and Keren), that’s 14 bottles of beer, but then I realise it’s just over £3. Accommodation in Eritrea is cheap, and beer even more so.