The World: Notes on a Land of Mirages

After preliminary visits to Eritrean Liberation Front offices in Damascus and Khartoum, TIME Correspondent Dean Brelis set off on a 600-mile journey through Eritrean-held territory, the most extensive visit yet made by a Western journalist. Some of his recollections:

From Khartoum, Photographer David Burnett and I booked ourselves aboard a red and yellow bus that makes the daylong journey to Kassala, a Sudanese town that lies near the Eritrean border. For twelve hours, the bus hurtled through the open desert, crashing across giant potholes; the thermometer was constant—between 115° and 120° F.

Once inside...