Tuesday, June 12, 2007

City of Dreams

Yesterday I received a belated birthday gift. It was a book from a good friend who will be visiting me on Thursday, titled “Asmara – Africa’s Secret Modernist City”. It’s a book about Asmara, Eritrea’s Architecture. There is also a DVD called “City of Dreams” available on Amazon.com concerning the architecture of the colonial Italians.


Asmara was the most beautiful city that I had seen when in Africa during the 1960’s. The Italians who occupied the country of Eritrea until the early 1940’s wanted it to be the “New Rome”. In the 1930’s, they sent Architects and construction crews to Asmara. The new buildings were built in the Art Deco style that was popular in Italy at that time. The design of some of these buildings would make Frank Lloyd Wright hold his breath and say “Why didn’t I do that?”

We tend to think about Africa as we see it (or, I my case, had seen it) in the Movies. Before being stationed there in the 1960’s my impressions of Africa were from movies like “The African Queen”, “Mogambo “and “Hatari”, and from pictures in National Geographic Magazine. Representations of Eritrea and Ethiopia were never on film, but I expected it to be the same as what I had seen in the movies. At the time, I thought it was just another African country and they were all the same.

Asmara is a beautiful city and the people living there were beautiful too, especially the women. Several of my Army friends married Eritrean women. I had also considered it (marring) for a brief moment, but decided I was too young and still in love with my girlfriend back home.

This Thursday thru Sunday I will be spending time with friends that I had shared time with at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. We will look at the pictures of the “City Of Dreams” and reminisce. We’ll recall great stories about the time that we had spent that in Asmara.

Most of us now look at the term that we spent there as one of the best times of our lives.

The Beach Bum

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Austing said...

I, too, fell in love with Asmara while assigned to Kagnew Station. I was there for only a short period of time due to the shenanigans of my first wife there; I worked at TMP as a water hauler and dispatcher, spending most of my time at the Top 5 Club and downtown. I surely wish I could afford to visit there with my present wife; I've told her all about it and showed her as many pictures as I've been able to find, but pictures don't do the city justice!

Tue Jun 12, 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Richard Feder, Ft Lee said...

re: "There is also a DVD called “City of Dreams” available on Amazon.com"

What's that, a fuckin' hint?

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