The Hotel Torino - Massawa, Eritrea
Red Sea breeze and indigo sky
pierced by full moon hanging
like the Christmas lights
strung above the rooftop bar
There’s a roof top bar at a cheap hotel very far away. It had a certain seediness about it or at least it did 50 years ago. I’m sure it hasn’t changed much; just the clientele changes. It kind of reminds one of an Italian version Rick’s Café Americain, only outdoors.
Strung around the roof are Christmas lights once colored red, white and green - not for Christmas.
On the roof one can feel the hot breeze from the Red Sea and when the moon hangs in the black sky, see its reflection on the waves.
Potted palm fronds barely moving
pretty young things different colors
chocamocha café latte
Italian band plays thirties favorites
Around the roof potted palms and, rising into the night air was music of the old days played half heartedly by an Italian band. Dancing to the music pretty young girls in various shades of beige and brown.
Transported to another time
sitting now where dead men sat
hot breeze off eternal sea
they dreamed of home and Italy.
Our seedy bar sits high on the roof top of a once fine hotel, built by the all-conquering Italians in the neo-fascist style, an outpost of the new Roman Empire. Here once sat soldiers and colonists now long gone. Sitting on the Horn of Africa while sipping a drink, did they miss Italy? Don't all soldiers miss home? One can still hear the echos of "Giovinezza" sung by soldiers who've had a bit too much to drink.
Il Duce’s portrait here no longer
Campari soda piacere
gone the dusty dream of glory
I’m dancing to Perfidia
The portrait of Il Duce is long gone. The Italian soldiers were replaced by British ones, ordering their gin and tonic in place of compari soda. And then they were replaced by soldiers of the American empire.
I was one of them. Campari soda in honor of the ghosts.
We too are now gone from the seedy roof top bar. The Hotel Torino is still in business and I’m sure the bar, with its ghosts, is as well.
If you happen to be in the area have a drink at the roof top bar above the Hotel Torino and sit where Toritto sat 50 years ago.
Feel the ghosts.
If you are truly adventurous take the Littorina to Asmara, the city in the sky and see the most beautiful city in Africa. You will think you are in Naples. Ride the rail through Ghinda, Shegereni, Arbaroba and Nefasit. It was on that railroad that a young man of 20 learned how most of the world really lived.
It is a trip for the young which will change you forever.