Eritrea, or Music Lessons
The parents of my student said that they had come from Eritrea. Just to look at them, I guessed it was somewhere in Africa, but had no idea where exactly Eritrea was.
From an Internet encyclopedia I learned that this country gained independence only in 1993. At that time I, too, was gaining a certain type of independence myself, and, of course, I missed the act of formation of a new country.
My new friends are beautiful people, simila to the Ethiopians, which is not surprising -- it is Ethiopia they broke away from.
Eritrea was an Italian colony since 1882. It is located on the Red Sea coast in Eastern Africa, bordering Ethiopia and Sudan in the west. The capital of the country is Asmera.
Eritrean currency is nakfa / 100 cents. This is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its total area is the size of the Orenburg region.
Eritrea means the Red Sea in Greek. The country is named for the sea, for the red algae, which colors the waters during flowering.
The sea is unique in that it is a natural basin and over thousands of years there no rivers flow into it. The water is clear and warm, and the flora and fauna are found nowhere else.
I do not know about Eritrea, but in Israel an underwater aquarium is built in the Red Sea.
In that aquarium you feel as if you were sinking to the bottom of the sea, and from there, you contemplate the unique and wondrous underwater world.
In Israel, you can also ride a boat with a glass bottom in order to observe the life in the water right beneath your feet.
The sea is amazing; luckily, we managed to visit, swim and even gather corals, the dead ones, which already turned white.
Let us return to Eritrea. After the Italians, the British ruled the Eritreans from 1941 until 1952.
From 1962 to 1993 the Eritreans fought for independence from Ethiopia.
My students’ father once lent me a book of one of the Eritrean patriots, who described the struggle for independence and his own role in it. I must admit, this was not a light reading.
Having looked through the book and through and coming across lines about a heart torn from one’s breast and lying in the dust, I realized that this book is not for everyone. I learned that Marxism was cultivated in this country, and as a result, the man’s brother -- my student’s uncle -- studied in Russia and learned the Russian language. Now, Russia is one of the customers of Eritrea’s commercial products.
At this time, the country is run by a group of war veterans. On the religious front, the country is divided in half. The Muslim faith group takes almost fifty per cent, and the rest consists of of different groups and Christians.
My student’s family observes the Greek Orthodox religion.
Eritrea has several historical monuments, like the Corinthian columns of the neoclassical palace of the governor, Roman porticos of the Opera House, and one of the earliest human settlements dating back to 8000 BC.
Eritrea can claim the proud fact that it is the birthplace of Alexander Pushkin’s great-grandfather.
Information one can find on the Internet encourages us to visit this fantastic country, but warns of possible issues, like illness, bad roads, troubled atmosphere; however, the cost of living is very low.
I really like the Ethiopian-Eritrean bread - injera -- it is similar to pancakes, prepared from the teff seed flour, which contain a lot of iron that has blood-restorative qualities.
We tried injera for the first time in New York City..
I also really like summer flip-flops from Eritrea, I hope someday I get a chance to wear them.