Keren, a regional trading center 56 miles (90 km) northwest of Asmara, has long been a destination for Italians, Brits, Americans, and Ethiopians alike as a resort of sorts. Visitors may have to eat a bit of dust and have little to do in the evenings there, but they were comfortable. At 5,400 feet (1650 meters), its nights are warmer than Asmara's during the colder season.
Living on the crossroads and border of many cultural groups, the people of Keren find hotel jobs all around Eritrea and Ethiopia. A person from Keren often speaks six or seven languages: his native Tigrinya or Belin; the lowland trade language of Tigrai and the all-encompassing Arabic; and the tongues of his conquerors, Italian, English, and Amharic. Add the easy-to-learn French, used in Addis Ababa, and you have a versatile linguist ready to work any hotel crowd.
The U. S. Army maintains a hotel in Keren, ...
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