02-04-2010 by Freddie del Curatolo
They say that in Kenya one Easter is as good as another, that as always the sun rises at 6:21 am and sets at 6:26 pm, the saints of the weekend are Friday (a Bantu relative) and a certain L. Dell'Angelo.
In Malindi, however, there is a disproportionate difference between High Easter and Low Easter.
It is not a matter of waiting longer for the resurrection of Jesus, also because in these parts we are used to exhausting waits.
Easter simply goes out of season and hardly anyone takes the opportunity to have a little holiday on the Kenyan coast. In Egypt, dodging street demonstrations and an improbable attack in Sharm where the Mubarak family resides, it's starting to get warm and the offers for a week's vacation are equivalent to the price of a one-way train ticket from Sesto Calende to Bassano del Grappa.
In second class, of course. In Kenya, on the other hand, there is the risk of rain, an air of demobilization that makes you melancholy and, above all, there are many residents who can't take it anymore and can't wait to enjoy their well-deserved vacation.
An African safarino, mostly.
But some chronically ill residents also dream of shopping on Via Veneto or Sundays at the mall or Ikea.
So in Malindi and the surrounding area, High Easter is a real bummer!
In 2007, for example, Easter happened in mid-March: the countrymen and women were overflowing, Silversand beach boasted a good density of beach-boys per tourist, the many restaurants accepted customers only by reservation, the fish vendors turned into pushers, and for a whiff of lobster they asked for enough to buy two kilos in November.
The sellers of houses easily got rid of old villas, auctioned off modern apartments and promised, after a juicy down payment, every single casting of cement on Kenyan soil. Golden business for interior designers, boutiques, antique dealers, greengrocers and corpivendolas.
Every morning, safari minibuses sped towards the national parks and then queued up in the heart of Africa, so much so that the lions wondered if it would not have been better to be born a toll booth keeper; rented cars and cabs filled the streets with healthy smog absorbed by baobabs in secular abstinence and, at night, the discos were beehives full of honey (more like armpit honey than acacia honey) and human jams.
The VIPs danced and, after hours in the sun with a total screen (if there is no screen somewhere, they don't live), they indulged in an aperitif at the Biennale of Contemporary Art, amidst the advice of a Melandri and the burps of a Bisteccone Galeazzi.
Africa acted as the setting, romantic, fascinating, exotic, mysterious, disturbing, relaxing paradise, invading, depending on the case, the state of mind and the state of origin.
For the Italian residents that brothel meant "hay in the farmyard", for the Kenyans that brothel meant "grab it while you can".
2011, the Easter as far as possible: the sun desperately looks for a tourist at noon to cast its perpendicular shadow, the few holidaymakers feel disoriented, inadequate, out of catalog and context. As disoriented as a catamaran in a heliport, they wander in search of a ball-busting entertainer, a beach-boy who will cheat them, a marijuana dealer who will inform the police, to finally feel like they are on vacation.
Silversand beach looks like a Palermo street course five minutes before a murder-for-hire, the restaurants greet customers like cousins from Europe whose visit they've been waiting for for twenty years, the fish vendors ride their bikes past throwing lobsters into the place like copies of the Daily Nation and picking up the cents left on the rocks at the entrance. The sellers of houses get drunk and organize solitary parties every night in a different villa, choosing among those returned after the first installment, they rent to Indian families the modern apartments left empty and prevent every single pouring of concrete on the Kenyan land. Interior designers are resting, boutiques are closing, antique dealers are selling off, greengrocers are disappearing, and bodegas are switching from jumping clubs to end-of-season sales. Italian residents have the smiles of someone who is smoking a little bit of his own hay every day.
Alright, I went too far, I got carried away. All in all, it's been a wonderful, record-breaking season.
We look forward to seeing you all at the resurrection! Nooo, for once not that of Our Lord...that of the Kenyan coast, starting in July:
Malindi, to understand you must come! (not a bad slogan, right?).
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by Freddie del Curatolo
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