Ah, what a shower and a good night's sleep and another shower—can do for one's outlook on life!
We were in bed by 4:30 and up by 11 o'clock in the morning. After an invigorating shower, we headed for lunch since we missed the complimentary breakfast. (I must make one quick observation: you know how difficult it is to not eat the last brownie in the pan or not eat more than one potato chip? Either of those things are much easier than not slurping a bit of water in the shower or when you are brushing your teeth IF you are in a place where you can't drink the water...and you drank all of your bottled water the night before and this morning your mouth is as dry as the Sahara Desert...which is only a few hundred mile north of us right now...) Back to today's story...
The hotel had a wonderful buffet lunch starting at noon so we hit it hard; and everything was delicious. Salads, cold sea foods, soups, roast pork loin, lots of things that we had never heard of, and piles of desserts. And all of it was good. (Oh, and we drank ginger ales and a liter of bottled water!)
By one o'clock, we were ready to meet our guides and the rest of the group. There are only 16 of us on the tour, from everywhere in the U.S. including Washington DC, Florida, Michigan, Chicago, Seattle, and Connecticut.
Our local (Nairobi) guide is Eileen and our full tour guide is Albert. They gave us the rundown for the rest of the day and the rest of the week. Our group will travel in 3 vans, with six tourists in two and four in one.
After the gathering, we got on the road. The afternoon was spent in a area about an hour outside the city on land that once belonged to Karen Blixen. More on her in a moment, but our first stop was at a fantastic reserve for one of the most notable wild animals in Africa: the giraffe.
You may or may not know (we didn't) that there are nine sub-species of giraffe. The only way to tell them apart is by their patterns. The reserve we visited is dedicated to one of the three giraffes found in Kenya, and one of the most endangered. This is the Rothschild giraffe. The Rothschild is distinct because of their white “socks” on the lower legs. The compound we visited is home to a total of five giraffes at this time. We were given an educational lecture on the species and then we were invited to hand feed them...and to kiss them if we chose to do so. (John and Susie chose not to…) To kiss them, you put a food pellet in your mouth and then a giraffe would wrap the tip of its 18-inch tongue around the pellet and lick it out. Slimy.
After feeding, petting, and photographing the graceful creatures, it was back to the vans and on to the Blixen House. If you remember the movie from the 1980’s (starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford) you may recall that Karen Blixen was a Danish woman who moved to Kenya in the early 1900’s with her husband. They had about 6000 acres here and intended to grow coffee. The coffee farming didn’t work out; neither did the marriage. Karen’s husband moved away, but she stayed with her boyfriend for several years. They lived an interesting life until her beau was killed in a plane crash. Karen went bankrupt and moved back to Denmark. It was only after that—when she wrote several books about her experiences, including “Out of Africa” upon which the movie was based—that she became successful and renowned. The estate was broken up into 20 acre plots, but the original home is intact and still breath-taking with its gorgeous trees and flowering hedges. All of us agreed that we could live there.
Traveling a very short distance from the Blixen House, we found ourselves at the Kazuri Bead Factory. Kazuri, which means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, began in 1975 as a tiny workshop to make handmade beads. The founder, Lady Susan Wood, discovered many local women who were single mothers needing regular employment and she expanded the business to provide opportunities to those in need. Today, Kazuri beads are sold in stores around the world and provide employment for many disadvantaged people here. We were given a tour and had time to do a little shopping.
By the time we had finished the tour, it was time to weave our way back through the rush hour traffic of Nairobi to our hotel. In a city of 3.8 million people, there are 1.4 million automobiles, so the streets do get crowded. Once back, we are advised to stay here; walking alone on the city streets after dark is not recommended. That was fine with us. The two of us shared a small bottle of champagne one the poolside deck to celebrate a milestone in our lives. We followed with a drink and a sandwich in the lobby lounge where a piano player tinkled out some classic American tunes. A perfect end to a fine day.
Tomorrow, we pack up and head for the wilder parts of Kenya!
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine
You know us. You know travel is one of our passions.
A long time ago, we learned two things: one, the book of the world is really big; and two, we will never be able to read every page! Keeping those things in mind, we decided that our own personal goal would be to read at least a few pages in each of the seven chapters that represent the seven continents of the world: North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Antarctica, Asia, and Africa.
We have (and continue to) read many pages about North America, where we live. In 2000 our initial trip to Ireland was our first joint adventure onto the European continent. Australia and New Zealand in 2005 introduced us to another chapter. Our lengthy trip at the end of 2007 took us to South America and Antarctica. Chapter six was a glimpse of China just last fall. So here we are in Kenya, our first journey into Africa, reading some of the many pages from the last chapter of our Book of the World. We've celebrated reaching our goal with a chilled bottle of champagne.
So we have reached our own personal goal. It wasn't meant to be a race or a contest; it doesn't give us any "bragging rights." It's something we do with each other-for each other. And, of course, we will continue to travel; we will keep reading more interesting and exciting pages in this fantastic Book of the World.