A June 2004 trip
to Eritrea by nomadnancy
Quote: As a recent resident of Eritrea for a year, and now a visitor, I simply love this beautiful little forgotten country, but there are some drawbacks as a visitor...
First, there is a persistent threat of a war reigniting with their neighbor and one-time ruler Ethiopia. This explains the constant presence of UN peacekeeper troops in many cities throughout Eritrea. Additionally, Eritrea has stepped up their once-relaxed protocols for travel within the country. Visitors who could once take a bus wherever they wished within the country now have to apply for a travel permit once they arrive in country and wait 24 to 48 hours to get the permit. This permit is required at the newly installed checkpoints set up around the countryside. Failure to produce one can prompt arrest or a fine. So, if you do want to travel, expect to spend a few days in Asmara while you wait for your permit to be processed.
Additionally, the borders to Sudan and Ethiopia are closed, giving Eritrea island status. Finally, and most disturbingly, the president of Eritrea seems to have caught the African-dictator bug and restricted all free speech and free press. The BBC has been asked to leave, and you will not be able to find any current newspapers or magazines. There is a propaganda paper that the government issues every Saturday, but this is just a bunch of BS. Do NOT discuss politics with Eritreans; this puts them in a difficult spot, as they could be arrested for any expressed negative views.
If I haven't scared you off yet, that's good. Eritrea is an amazing destination that I still frequent - I just am now more aware of the hardships that their citizens endure. This hasn't hardened the people at all - they are still so kind and welcoming. Enjoy!
Kalutara, Sri Lanka