Adiós Hilton we’re heading to Karen.
The drive out of the bustling city of Nairobi pumped new blood into our systems. The Hilton was so depressing that the excitement of the actual movement of the car felt like we were experiencing our first flight on the Concorde.
The outskirts of the city reminded me of La Paz, Mexico where tall buildings turned in to short ones and outdoor markets sprung up like weeds in the desert selling everything from nursery plants/pots to bedroom furniture and homemade BBQ’s. The difference here was the speed at which the cars moved and no place to park and shop.
Markets became stone houses behind tall fences and concrete sidewalks became lush country lanes. Grass and flowering bougainvillea abutted the roads – clean air once again.
I couldn’t help humming – country roads take me home to a place I belong – the West Virginia part part didn’t quite fit but you get my drift.
First stop. The Karen Blixen Museum which is actually her second Kenyan home. If you haven’t seen Out of Africa I highly recommend it. Produced in 1985 it starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Ms. Blixen’s namesake and 6,000 acre farm, wood lands and coffee plantation occupied the land where the suburb of Nairobi now stands.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Next stop the Giraffe Center in Langata. It started in 1979 as a place to preserve the Rothschild Giraffe. Now it educates thousands of Kenyan school children every year and tickles the fancy of giraffe loving tourists.
It’s like feeding ducks in the park on steroids. Most entertaining was watching giggling adults act like unabashed children. Reaching skywards towards these towering gentle giants with their fingered food pellet saying to themselves “Pick me, pick me, pick me.” Giddy when a bristly, long, pointy tongue lowers to greet their fingers. Slurping. Leaving a trail of spit like a spider’s web. A sign of treat well received.
Our final stop before our 5 pm meet and greet with our safari tour was the Kazuri (small and beautiful in Swahili) Bead Center. Founded in 1975 by two single moms. They grew a work-force (pre-Covid) to 340 mostly single women chosen out of the slums. These ladies were taught how to make clay by scratch, fabricating pottery and beads for jewelry. Sadly, now only 60 women are employed and shops were closed due to lack of funds to pay the rent. Normally the tour is closed on Sundays and only the store is open. Luckily Kim and I were given a private tour where we learned about each step in the process from earth to end product.
The four of us checked into our stunning suites at the Hemingways Hotel and promptly met our guide Iain along with three other brave Americans (coincidentally) that we would be joining on our safari.
I had dreamed about an Africa safari for years. A luxurious tent with chandeliers, rugs, fluffy bed and a bathtub where giraffes would stroll up to the side and drink from the bath water while I lounged in bubbles sipping champagne……
After an hour of introductions and getting the low down on our journey out of Karen the following day – we departed with a reminder to be in the lobby at 5:45am.
A leisurely (Kenyan way) al-fresco dinner gave us barely enough time for a quick bath before bed.
Not much time to enjoy our Suite.
Such is life…