Sweet sweet Saturday. It’s nice to know that even in other cultures the arrival of the weekend means leisure time; people are more relaxed, children play a little wilder and it’s just nice to release some of your obligation, at least til Monday. Since Hannah and I have been spending quite a lot of time around our neighbourhood and our house we knew we definitely wanted to go out exploring this Saturday. In an awesome feat of coincidental timing, my friend Rebekah from home was also out this way and so we arranged to hang out.
We decided to go to Karen. This is an area of Nairobi named for Karen Blixen, a Danish national who settled here in the earlier parts of the 20th century and was known to be kind, helpful and loving to the Kikuyu people who inhabited her farm property. She was also an author who penned “Out of Africa” about her time here and it was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster film in the 80s (hence my title, irregardless of his lack of British accent, a tan outdoorsy Robert is still pretty sweet). The original house is still there, now a museum, as well as some nearby properties but clearly this woman had such an impact as to name an entire area for her. So we thought we’d go see what the hubbub was all about.
Now to say you’re going somewhere in Nairobi requires one of two things. 1) a car and a lot of time (traffic is actually ridiculous here… 3-4 hour commutes are commonplace) or 2) a decent amount of courage and a working knowledge of the bus/matatu system. Matatus are 15 passenger mini-busses that stop for no pedestrian and are an intimidating aspect of city life. Thankfully, Rebekah is a travel pro and navigated our way via city bus and matatu to the Karen Blixen Museum.
For a history buff like myself, such a museum was pretty awesome even just to walk around and contemplate that someone lived here 100 years ago when the area was a massive coffee plantation and native tribes inhabited the lawn. How amazing.
We then wandered down the road to the teashop and restaurant which upon our arrival I proclaimed it was like we were British colonials again. Imagine a manicured lawn next to a low stone house with tables covered in white linens where we would take lunch. It felt like perhaps the country club might have felt during the height of the British empire.
Having ended lunch reasonably early we decided we had time to get to the Giraffe Center as it was nearby. Bodas or motorcycle taxis seemed the best option so we hailed 2 and zipped along over to the park where we fed some giraffes and met a couple warthogs.
Perhaps the most entertaining bit though was a family from the UK trying to enter a contest or something of some sort where readers are meant to snap photos of themselves reading The Guardian in unusual locales. The dad proceeded to take pictures of the mom reading from every angle, pose and position he could all the while wondering “Are you really reading it? It doesn’t look like it.” “Make sure we can see the headline.” “Now let’s try it on the iPhone.” Literally, they spent the entire time we were in the park (at least an hour) working on these photos. We had a bit of a chuckle.
Nairobi is a fascinating city, with layers to discover and see. I was inspired on our 1st day out as tourists and can’t wait to see what adventures my Saturdays will take me on.