12-11-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
If already in the past years in this period exotic destinations were identified as a lifeline for many Italians, today in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic with relative restrictions, they become even more a necessity, a fixed thought and a certain category of countrymen would (and are making) false cards in order to be able to indulge in the usual months of sun and heat.
Yes, because it is useless to deny it, the coast of Kenya is preferred from November to March by many "winterers" over many other national and international destinations because of its climate.
The frequent visitors of Malindi and Watamu are especially pensioners, who have always been favoured by places where Italian is spoken everywhere, where you can move freely, a help at home (or a carer) is relatively cheap and even eating is cheap, if it were not for the indispensable olive oil (5 litre canister in a suitcase, for the more astute), pasta and parmesan cheese. Of course, it would be difficult for those who have decades of popular national habits to go back to boiling tomatoes instead of using puree, to enjoy the biscuits of the "House of Manji" instead of the "Mulino Bianco" and to give up the myriad cans of everything.
There are those who have made it and have also discovered that in Kenya you can eat well and healthy for 3 euros a day.
But the sun, the gentle temperature and the beneficial influence of the sea and the Equator, where can you find it if not in Kenya?
At the moment, there are two main reasons that are holding back this small army estimated at a few thousand tourists (enough to raise the earnings of the population of Kilifi County, certain activities and induced industries by a few percentage points):
1 Italy's ban on tourism trips outside the Schengen area. Not so much because such a ban (as unfortunately many in Italy) is outrageous, but because it has effectively blocked tour operators and consequently charter flights. There are therefore no more direct flights from Milan, Rome, Verona, sometimes even Bergamo and Naples to Mombasa. Seven to eight hours of transfer with Italian-speaking hostesses, no intermediate stops and just a bit of anxiety on arrival, with airport immigration officers and afterwards at baggage control.
2. Health issues. Those who have already visited Kenya know very well that in case something unpleasant happens, either they rely on Fate or on a very expensive private facility. For a simple fracture to be reconstructed you can spend even 1000 euros, for a sudden appendicitis that can go into peritonitis even 3000 euros. There are those from Italy who take out international insurance, those who take out small local policies and take out Amref's Flying Doctor and those who simply cross their fingers and absorb a bit of African fatalism. In any case, pandemic-related media terrorism has certainly left the trawl.
It is therefore a battle of conscience and habits having to renounce Kenya, really difficult to accept not being able to do something that is good for the heart, arthritis, mood and wallet.
"Just think, last year I saved 3500 euros in heating, coming to Kenya, a reader wrote to me. This year, having to stay at home between lockdowns and fire covers, I will certainly spend more this year. A disaster, with my pension".
Others think of all the hobbies and passions that a "second summer" has given them the chance to cultivate.
The hope is that, while waiting for the vaccine that will reopen the borders and lower the threshold of people's fear, Kenya will be included in the list of countries frequented by Italians and not oblige the few "sly" to break the law, convinced that it is right to do so because almost nobody is controlled.
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