28-Dec-2003 -- We left Āsmara, the capital of Eritrea, around 11:00, travelling in a LandCruiser with the two youngest kids perched in the boot. Stopped for lunch in Dek'emhāre, a small city about 30 minutes south of Āsmara. Left Dek'emhāre around 12:30; ten minutes outside of Dek'emhāre we branched southward onto a secondary dirt road which took us through a large, flat plain said to have once been the site of Africa's largest airstrip when it was built by the Italians in 1920. No sign of the airstrip now, just some scattered clusters of houses.
The secondary road took us to exactly 15 degrees south, but still 2500 meters to the west of our desired confluence point – things were looking promising. We entered a small village and found a track which did indeed turn us westward. Came to a fairly large village, called May Daga. We asked whether there was a road that continued westward and were told that there was indeed a dirt track which would take us west but that we would have to be careful of "sand"… Quicksand? Shifting sands? We weren't sure, but felt confident that we would be able to spot trouble in time and besides, at that point we were too excited to be so close to the confluence point, so proceeded accordingly.
Continued travelling westwards, progressing about 500 meters before the track converged with a seasonal riverbed. The soft sandy bottom of the riverbed was clearly what the villagers had been warning us about. Given that our vehicle's 4-wheel drive mechanism was not working, we decided to leave the car and try and find the confluence point on foot.
Fortunately, the riverbed was easy to walk on and headed almost directly towards our confluence point, south-southwest. Walked around 2000 meters on the riverbed, encountering a few friendly people herding goats and cattle, before leaving the riverbed and walking across some fields. Spotted a beautiful church on a ridge directly ahead of us, near a small village (called Kileawta), and then came across a dirt road in very good condition. We still don't know where this road, which seemed to stop in the small village, came from but it was definitely not connected to the road we had been on (as we discovered when we made our way back to the car, getting lost in the process, but that's another story).
After about ten minutes of increasingly excited circling in the field just across from the road, we were able to nail down our confluence point of 15 degrees north and 39 degrees east. Time was approximately 4:30 p.m. By then we had attracted the attention of half a dozen children from the village, who were no doubt mystified as to the purpose of our strange amblings. Fortunately, land ownership is generally communal in today's Eritrea, so hunting for confluence points does not stir up the sort of suspicions that it might in some of the neighbouring countries. We were able to return to Āsmara just after dusk, tired but contented with having been the first ones to have documented a confluence point in Eritrea.