Last week I went to Malindi on the northern coast of Kenya with Gretchen and her co-worker George. The Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church held an HIV/AIDS training session for pastors, and Gretchen was reporting on it for the KELC Newsletter. The first day I went to the beach club while Gretchen and George were in meetings. It was fabulous to lie on the beach and swim in the Indian Ocean. Malindi is known as the ‘Little Italy’ of Kenya, because it draws many Italian tourists. It was kind of strange though, as we would walk along the streets in town, small children we passed would yell “Ciao! Ciao!” One afternoon a beach boy was trying to sell me some souvenirs, as I bargained with this Kenyan he exclaimed “mama mia!” I loved Malindi, it is a small town with an Arab, coastal flavor. The people were all very friendly, and the town is safe enough to be out at night. And because of the huge number of Italians, you can get a great cappuccino and really good Western food. The best of both worlds!
On the beach, there are always beach boys or girls trying to sell souvenirs to the tourists. One afternoon, Gretchen, George, and I were lying out at the beach club. Our chairs were facing the beautiful Indian Ocean, so that we could see the waves breaking in, but we were separated from the public beach by a short brick wall. Four or five people had already walked by on the other side of the partition selling native crafts, and then another man stopped and said “Jambo!” He asked if we wanted to see what he was selling (that was a rhetorical question), and stooped below the wall to pick it up. As he was about to set his goods on the ledge, we all expected to see a carved native figurine or a wooden bowl, but when he stood up he placed a live lobster on the ledge right in front of us! I think it scared all of us, because we weren’t expecting a living animal!
One interesting piece of celebrity news—supermodel, Naomi Campbell, and Italian Formula One boss, Flavio Briattore, have a home along the Malindi coast. One local pointed out their home to me and said that she had been there just two days before; their home was just a half mile away from the beach club I went to. George tried to convince Gretchen and I that Naomi Campbell attends AA meetings at the Malindi Lutheran Parish, but we aren’t sure if he is pulling our leg or not. So take that for what it is worth!