In 1993, a rather luxurious yacht was offered to us to operate in the Red Sea. The owner had kept the yacht in the Mediterranean, but he wanted some new adventures in a more exotic ocean with better diving conditions. I was delighted.

For a variety of reasons, the yacht owner wanted to structure the cruise for boarding in Massawa, located in Eritrea in the southern part of the Red Sea. Then the yacht would steam up from that seaport up the coast to do the fabulous Sanganeb Reef and Sha’ab Rumi off the coast of Sudan and then conclude the cruise, leaving the yacht to return home via Eritrea.

Eritrea has been the scene of a long-standing war of secession. Eritrea wanted its independence from Ethiopia, and endured three decades of debilitating war, fighting the larger country to a standoff.

By the time we arrived, the active fighting had ended in a truce, but the damage was everywhere.  In the country’s capitol, Asmara, we were taken to a graveyard of Soviet military assets collected from around the city and placed in an enormous field.  Aircraft, tanks, armored personnel carriers and cannons were arrayed in long rows, baking in the sun.

Late that evening, I was on my balcony five flights up in our hotel. I heard a commotion down in the street below.
When I looked down from the balcony, what I saw was quite astonishing. Legless war veterans where having wild wheelchair races propelling themselves down the main street of the city with home-made ski poles! All I could think was, “I always knew that the Israelis were very tough fighters. Now I know that the Eritreans are, as well.”

Next day, we took the long drive from Asmara in the mountains down to Massawa, the seaport on the Red Sea coast. The drive was amazingly scenic, with sheer cliffs and immense switchback roads to drive between the capitol city of a half-million people at nearly 8,000 feet altitude and the seaport at sea level.

Massawa was another major battlefield of the war.  Government buildings and even mosques had been bombed and strafed. The railroad station has been bombed so thoroughly that all we saw was wreckage and twisted tracks. When we finally boarded the yacht, we realized that we had already had a major scenic part of our adventure. Maneuvering around a sunken ship in the harbor, we steamed off to go diving!

We download a small library of images to display on each of these gallery pages. That takes a number of seconds, but we think you will very much enjoy the result!

Asmara Courthouse Towers in morning light
Asmara to Massawa
Windows formation, with North and South windows
Massawa Our hotel in Massawa.

A YouTube Video about Eritrea.


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