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The story of Cristina and Ilaria between Africa, Maasai and Love

Today we want to share with you a very interesting and unique expat story, main characters are Cristina and Ilaria: two Italian friends and expats in Zanzibar who fell in love for two Maasai warriors met on this tropical island in the Indian ocean.

Ilaria’s story

Ilaria started as an expat in 2013, when she got a call from a tour operator she used to work with. She went to Zanzibar to work as a chef in an Italian resort. From here her life changed forever.

She started this experience with the lightheartedness that only the young age can give. She loved her job, cooking while looking at the Indian Ocean and white beach from the kitchen window was a dream. She met many local people and thanks to them she also had the chance to get to know the real Zanzibar, not the tourist one, but the one made of poverty, barefoot kids who play in the street and people who live in shacks. She even joined a Swahili wedding where she learned that there are so many different cultures around the world.

After a few months, she met the love of her life during an evening at the beach. As a very common tradition, he invited her to dance and they spent the evening together chatting and getting to know each other. The morning after, when she saw him wearing beautiful Shuka Maasai dresses, she just fell in love. They got engaged and spent one year and half on that wonderful and conflicting island. Why conflicting? It’s because if you go as a tourist, everything looks wonderful, while if you live there there are two conflicting worlds: rich and poor. For instance, next to a luxurious resort you can find a fishing village with poor houses and people sleeping on the floor. If you go to Stown Town, Zanzibar’s capital, you can find here the nice area with cute souvenir shops; but when you turn the corner, you end up in local dirty markets with fishes and meats hanging without any sanitary measures.

End of the year 2014, Ilaria decided to leave that country to start a new adventure at a restaurant in London, but after 8 months she went back to Italy with Andrea her Maasai boyfriend and the love of her life. Nowadays she travels to Tanzania once per year and for about a month to visit her husband’s family in the savannah.

Cristina’s story

Cristina’s story begins in August 2014 when she went to Zanzibar on holidays, and also here, everything changed after that. She always loved to live on a white sand beach, and right here she met the love of her life. After a few months she returned to Italy, she wanted to go back to Tanzania, this time in the Maasai village to meet her boyfriend’s family. Here she started thinking to quit everything (house, work and all her certainty) to become a partner of a small resort with Indian Ocean views.

The flip-flop-life dream finally become true, even though she had to work hard to learn a job she had no much experience in. She lived a few steps away from the resort she was running and in a simple unpretentious tin roof house. Sometimes there was no electricity, sometimes no water and for this reason she also learned to carry tanks of water supply and wash clothes by hand. It was a simple and essential life, without TV, where days passed by between work and enjoying the beach; but she was happy and satisfied.

She has learned to live with at the slower pace of Africa, where she also embraced the motto “Hakuna matata”, which means “there’s no problem” in Swahili. She missed the Italian cuisine, but she also loved the delicious fruit there and the fresh fish. Her favourite dish is pilau, spiced rice with local meat of the area. She also learned a bit of the local language Swahili and carried her pregnancy in Tanzania, where there are outdated machines and basic checks. During her seven month of pregnancy, together with her partner, they decided to go back to Italy, mainly because of the quality of the health system and, also, because it’s quite expensive to live on the island without working for many months, that would have been too difficult.

Not so long after, Krizia and Ilaria met on the beach of Viareggio, a well known city in Tuscany, thanks to their husbands and partners in life who organised a day at the beach.

From here and from their friendship, the “Sotto il cielo della Tanzania” project started! (“Under the Tanzania’s Sky). They are involved in many different projects, including a fundraiser to support the construction of a school for Maasai children in Arusha (Tanzania) and the publication of their book (by Dialoghi publisher) which draws inspiration from their expatriate live and it will be published soon.