The salty smell of the beach. The soft ocean breeze against the skin. The feel of the sand against bare feet. Laughter of joyous children as they try to combat the shallow ends of the vast Indian Ocean. The hilarious sight of a first time surfer as he/she takes nervously boards the surfboard ready to take on the ranging waves. Hotels bombarded by biryani enthusiasts. Mouths drooling after introductory to ‘viazi karai’ soaked in the famous ‘ukwaju’ chutney.

All these are memorable, breath taking sights that if we didn’t capture on camera before then it may take a really long time before such opportunities fall onto our laps again. The Kenyan Coast; a region that could give even ‘Wakanda’ a run for its money. A vast domain acclaimed to be on the go to list of most local and international tourists. An area filled with some of the most alluring, wondrous natural creations that anyone can lay eyes upon and a people that are most exquisite.

The lack of a chance to experience this dazzling region is just one of the most gut wrenching things that COVID 19 has handed to us. From now until when this crisis is averted, going to Mombasa will just be another wishful thinking scenario. Not only are the tourists among those agonizing but the locals also. Most of the coastal residents were fully dependent on tourism as a source of income. It helped them put food on the table, put their children through school and much more. Now COVID 19 has become the image of Satan himself before their eyes, having robbed them of their livelihood.

COVID 19 entered our world and turn it upside down. Every country worldwide had to adapted; to the very least try their level best to minimize the spread of this virus. Kenya like most countries around the globe, implemented travel restrictions. No one was allowed in and out of the country. Furthermore, the President banned travel in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.

The Governor of Mombasa also restricted people from going to beach to swim or relax. All this significantly affected the tourism sector. Major hotels like Whitesands and Serena have next to no people coming into their premises. They have been forced to lay off a large percentage of their workers or force them to go on unpaid leaves.

Real estate in areas endowed by foreigners has also received a huge blow. Towns such as Malindi that was famous for Italians largely living in it, are now almost like ghost towns as most fled back to their country. The case is similar in Ukunda, Diani, parts of Kilifi and Mombasa.

The local food vendors along the streets are also MIA because business has gone done. You will no longer meet the ‘kachiri’, ‘mabuyu’, ‘achari’, ‘labania’ and many other Swahili snack vendors laid out on the towns’ streets as they used to before. The curio traders, photographers, Swahili artifact sellers, boat attendants, swimsuits and life jackets sellers together with beach boys that were normally easily seen and found along the beach are all gone.

In this trying time, Mombasa has definitely felt the pinch that comes from COVID 19. However, we are not to be dismayed. The world had joined hands and it’s just a matter of time before we kick the nasty disease to the curb. When that time comes, Mombasa will rise to its former glory and become the ‘Mombasa Raha’ we once knew and loved so much.

As we await, remember to wash your hands, maintain social distance and most importantly STAY SAFE.

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