20-03-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
It was an intense day for the Italian community of Malindi, especially for non-residents in Kenya and AIRE members.
At the Bar Bar, the vital hub of meetings between compatriots, there are already those who are armed with masks and those who are not.
It is difficult to wear it, for those who have always been accustomed to the local sport of coffee and brioche chat.
They talk and talk better without muzzles, like dogs that bark and luckily do not bite almost never, and sometimes the age and the relative hearing suggest to read the lips to better grasp the concepts.
Also for this reason, safety distances are often blessed, as when you were on the ring road every morning.
But everyone is well disinfected, sober but full of ethanol from fingertips to forearms, so as not to make mistakes.
Since the morning the main topic was the decision, communicated by the Italian Embassy website in Nairobi and posted on the bulletin board of the Honorary Consulate which is right next to the bar, of the Italian Government to organize a commercial charter flight (i.e. for a fee) to come to recover all the compatriots who might soon be in trouble.
Whether because of cancelled flights, changes of dates or restrictions, as recommended by the Embassy itself, or simply because for various reasons they would prefer a direct flight to a possible return with stopovers who knows where.
Many people expected and hoped for such a decision. In their hearts they expected it for free, but the news from the Maldives, Cancun and other wintering paradises did not leave much hope.
Now, when the time came to decide, here they are filling out the appropriate form, making photocopies and distributing them as if it were a competition at the post office in Naples in the 1950s, but not everyone seems enthusiastic about returning to the country in the world where there is currently the worst situation of contagion and death, with collapsing health care and an atmosphere of unreal waiting and pain.
Those who know this country in its social folds know that if the situation in Kenya should explode in a short time, public health care here is practically non-existent and private health care is very expensive. In practice, if you do not have good health insurance with coverage of tens of thousands of euros, either you stick to good luck or you live by the day like most coastal populations.
Because when it suits you, the Mal d'Africa, that taking things as they come and getting intoxicated with Nature and the ineluctability of the life cycle, is a religion. But when you are faced with difficult situations and something begins to move in the lower abdomen, then the Western verve as children of no war comes forward.
But there are, instead, those who have decided that they want to stay in Kenya, because isolation sounds better in a tropical garden with maybe a swimming pool and because "it is said around" that the virus slows down the contagion with heat and humidity.
Yes, perhaps these are the moments when you see if Malindi is just a tropical Rimini or is the place of the soul, of inner good even when things go wrong.
Apart from the rumors, which today are the "panem et circenses" of social addicts, here too we must consider the imminent arrival of the great rains, and also the possible rationing of water, electricity and goods of first consumption, which often arrive from Nairobi.
During the year of post-election chaos, at the beginning of 2008 when the tourist season was completely compromised and fear was not for an invisible enemy like the Coronavirus, but for a risk of civil war with machetes and firearms, for a long time there was a lack of flour, gasoline and a shortage of all kinds of drinks. Prices rose but fortunately no violence of any kind was reported on the coast.
In any case, the queue in front of the Italian Consulate was full from early morning.
Many people asked for information, handed in the completed forms (which instead, as already written, must be sent to the Embassy in Nairobi) or booked first, fearing to stay ashore (which could hardly happen).
In the next few days we will know the dates of the state flight, on which we will be able to intone the mantra so much in vogue "everything will go well".
For some people it will be for Kenya and its people already quite cut down, for others it will be for themselves alone.
That's life, That's Africa.
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