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Holiday in Kenya. Souvenirs from Africa

I had dreamed of Kenya for years. I dreamed it especially for the Savannah with its animals, landscapes and breathtaking colors. What I brought home from Africa goes far beyond the souvenirs . I learned that the law of the strongest is not only valid in the Savannah, that a smile of a child means above all hope. That a bus will never go too strong for the agile legs of a small eager to receive a few crayons and a handful of gift cards. That the sweets, those not because they hurt the teeth and the money is never enough to pay the dentist. 

That the orphanage is not, perhaps, the worst thing that can happen when on the other side of the fence you have dwarfs waiting for you to come out to receive their attention.I was shocked on the way from Mombasa to Watamu because of the impudent poverty my eyes are not used to seeing . I changed the yardstick then, entering the heart of Kenya, where the children waving their hands screaming “Jambo” and what they ask for as gifts are not games but water. I learned that a walk on the beach is impossible without being beached by beach boys , insistent guys who compete to sell you all the salable.

I learned that coconut wine is disgusting, that you have to swallow it without smelling it after having toasted on a full moon night. What to do your 31 years eating fresh fish, on the beach, by candlelight makes sense and is that of lightness, of the years you leave behind, and has the scent of new friends singing incomprehensible songs, sitting all by the fire .

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Cape Town: the suggestion of a city where a page of history was written

The sad actuality of these days made me want to write about South Africa, or rather that South Africa city where Nelson Mandela spent the 27 long years of captivity and in which he gave his first public speech after his release on 11 February 1990. Clearly I’m talking about Cape Town.

The site of the first European settlement in South Africa, in Cape Town there is still a strong perception that racial balance is still a point of arrival towards which the city moves slowly. A demonstration of this the shanty towns that welcome us at our entry into the city, inhabited entirely by the black population.Yes, because I arrived in Cape Town after a long safari through southern Africa.

Our truck has crossed the border between the wilds and the metropolis too quickly because the impact is not abrupt. I simply was not ready for so much civilization, back from days and nights spent in contact with a nature that had inevitably accustomed me to follow its rhythms. Precisely for this reason I did not love this city right away, in fact, I felt distant, almost a bit ‘hostile, and I could not immediately establish a relationship. So much so that the first round at the City Bowl, or the vital center of Cape Town, saw me a little cold. I looked around for a sign, something that caught my attention and justified all the good I had read and heard about this place.

And the sign I was looking for came to Grand Parade, the square where Mandela spoke the famous speech I mentioned above. Here, in that square, where my gaze was immediately captured by two banners placed on the facade of the old town hall and depicting the smiling face of Madiba, I made contact with the city.

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The moon on earth: the Namibian desert

One evening, in the middle of a safari that took me to the south of Namibia, I hear myself say: “Tomorrow guys wake up at 4”. At 4 o’clock? Let me understand, there are fifteen days of absurd alarms but at 4 means in the middle of the night, which then in Africa at night, allow me, is still much more night of the other continents! And this alarm that would immediately re-discuss the concept of vacation, what do we owe it to? I’m told: we have to get on the dune 45 to see the sunrise . At this point I was silent because the idea, although a little crazy, or perhaps because of this, I liked it all right.

And so it is precisely with the alarm at 4 am starting this day, which will remain one of the most memorable of our entire trip . In absolute darkness, helped only by the torches placed on our heads that make us look like so many miners about to challenge the heart of the earth, with the usual morning frost (or better, nocturnal) represented by a 4 degrees indicated by a thermometer, dismantle the tents and we load our luggage on the truck. Needless to tell you: the conversation this morning is scarce and I’m sure that a single voice echoes in the head of each of us and punctually says the following words: “But who made you do it.”

But, despite the rumors, at 5 we are in front of the gate of the campsite that will open from there to a quarter of an hour. Here the surprise: madness is not just our business, apparently we are in good company because other cars are in line with our truck. Right now I understand that the question is big: or the completely crazy people around are more than I expected, or what we are going to see really deserves every kind of uproar. Only after a half-hour drive we arrive in a square where there are already some other cars from which descend people who head for a mountain of red sand very hastily. Eggià, because the novelty is that, as if it were not enough the uproar, here it is also about struggling, and to work very quickly. Our driver advises us to start the climb to grab the seats in the front row to see the sunrise. It is easy for him, who knows then if on the dune 45 it never really climbed.

The climb is remarkable and the fact that the feet sink into the sand as in quicksand, makes it all very tiring. So much so that, I admit, I also thought not to make it. But it was enough to stop me to take a breath and move the concentration that until then had been catalyzed in putting the feet in the right places, to the surrounding landscape, to find the motivation to continue.

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That oasis called Nosy Komba, the island of lemurs

when we start evaluating Madagascar as a destination for a future trip, we Italians usually mean the small island of Nosy Be . It is located northwest of the Madre island and is home to a large number of French tourists and residents. For years, Nosy Be – which in Malagasy means ” big island ” – attracts middle-aged men who, once they reach retirement, decide to settle down in the quiet island, perhaps accompanying young local women.

We too, for the first approach, we chose Nosy Be as the basis of our journey but we did not miss the opportunity to discover some of the small islets that form a wonderful archipelago with a special fauna.

In particular I speak of Nosy Komba – “the island of lemurs” – and the name already says it all.
The small volcanic island is located between Nosy Be and the north-west coast of the Isola Madre and offers a very calm and clear sea with the possibility of snorkeling and diving . It is easy to meet under you a beautiful sea turtle, or a huge grouper!But you could be distracted by the sea because of some lively and very nice little creatures that populate the island: the lemurs! Mainly lemur macaque, perhaps the most widespread in the area. In appearance and in movement they resemble arzille monkeys but they are less spiteful and they gladly come closer if you offer them a banana.They will jump on their shoulders without thinking for a moment . They will hold the banana in their hands with their useful opposable thumb or will be content to lick the pulp from your hands.

They do not fear man, Nosy Komba is a wildlife paradise and they do not run any kind of danger for us. And they are perfect photomodels! If you are quick to take pictures, they change position every moment, going from the shoulders, to the head and with a surprising jump, up to the nearest branch. Skilled climbers and innate curious, spend a large part of their lives on trees looking from up there and waiting for a good reason to get off.
Although the island takes its name from them, the lemurs are not the only inhabitants of the dense tropical forest that extends to most of the land that emerged.