I like a good surprise. Like when a nun wears pink socks. Or when a not-so-promising movie is actually funny, but – and this is very important – only because you had supremely low expectations (Men who Stare at Goats, anyone?).
Consider Eritrea – a hot African land that enjoys injera, spicy berberé seasoning, and lentil wat (stew) – all regionally appropriate. All very expected.
Then, look down at Eritrea’s proverbial pink socks, a.k.a. a burst of Italy in an otherwise traditional African nation.
In the capital, Asmara, you can sip on a cappuccino and admire the colonial architecture – designed to resemble Italian villas as well as European art deco structures. The Fiat Tagliero gas station is even made to look like an airplane. More than 50,000 colonizers set up their lives in Eritrea, so it is no wonder they eventually called their new home “Little Rome.”
Not bad for pink socks!
** Photos courtesy of Carsten ten Brink and Hans van der Splinter (who has a web site devoted to showing the world the beauty of Eritrea). In Splinter’s words:
Starting from 1999, I visited Asmara on a yearly basis, and I walked through the city almost every day. I experienced its beauty, both its tranquility and its activity, the hospitality and the friendliness of its people. I have tried to catch the images of these walking tours in a set of 200 pictures and a brief description, as a tourist, for future tourists and visitors to Asmara Eritrea.