On the way to Amboseli . July 20, 2017

Rise and shine everyone!  Now is the time for breakfast and to see the countryside of Kenya.  This is where we had breakfast. Outside in the gardens we could see Vervet monkeys scampering around. The babies would be clinging to the Mommy as she went from tree to tree.After a lovely breakfast of eggs, fruit and croissants we were off. One last photo and we got into the Toyota Land Cruiser and hit the road. We saw lots of people hanging around. It turns out that these guys on scooters were taxis and took people on short trips.  This hotel is the former US embassy which was bombed years ago. We felt quite safe in Kenya although we never wandered off by ourselves. The motorcyclists seemed to be required to have helmets, although the drivers didn’t always wear them! Cows were all over the road once we got out of the city of Nairobi!  Kenya used to be a colony of the United Kingdom, as such driving was on the left side of the road.  Here we are passing by a Tuk-Tuk.  There were three people in the front and only seat of the vehicle!  We did go by a grocery store, but as we were on a mission to see as many animals as possible I didn’t request a stop.  I must admit that the neighborhood looked a little sketchy.  We saw lots of Acacia trees with these nests in them. They were from weaver birds. ​We saw more of the nests than the birds 

Do you want to see what driving was like?  Hop in, there is plenty of room, just hold on! Just watch out for cows.  After about three hours on paved roads and an hour on dirt roads we made it to the gates of Amboselli Park.  Our guide Francis paid the fee and we stayed in the car.  We were then surrounded by Masai, who tried to get us to buy their jewelry and other trinkets. We kept our heads down and tried not to look at them, as they were quite aggressive. We were quite excited to see our first Giraffes in the wild.  Our driver Francis, was a bronze guide.  He was extremely knowledgeable and quiet personable.  However, I think he wanted us to stop taking pictures and get to our Lodge!  It would be another hour from the main gate to our first tented camp, Tortilis.It was hard to keep going when everywhere you looked you saw more animals!  Here are the elephants!  Next post will be our hotel.  

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts’ Orphans Project July 19, 2017

Back to the blog.  We are now at an elephant orphanage in Nairobi. The orphanage is in Nairobi National Park, a humongous park that has many animals in it.  This section of the park is home of orphaned elephants, and a Blind rhino. They had a hippo, but he died.  Here is the gang waiting for our entrance to see what is going to happen. As always I was resting in the shade on a rock. We really had no clue what to expect here.We saw many pens with gigantic baby bottles. We thought that maybe we would be feeding baby elephants with these big bottles. That would be fun! We all lined up on one side of the path.  The gentleman is instructing us to stay to the side, and not lean into the path, as the elephants would be coming soon. Collin is ready to take pictures. ​

Here they come!  Stay out of the way, those big feet will do a number on a pedicure!  All the elephants had gotten into their pens and it was time to explore. Pumba, decided to rest and we let him be. This rhino is blind, he will stay in the sanctuary all his life as he is unable to live in the wild. He is unable to protect himself from predators.  On a happier note we were then able to visit the elephants. You can see how flexible their trunks are.  They scoop up the food and then shove it in their mouths. This guy is just starting to grow tusks. Elephants in the wild have a life expectancy of almost 70 years. The elephants were quite friendly and enjoyed sliming the guests.  ​Let’s hope the rumors of laundry at the safari camps would be true! 

​Sally fell in love with Ndotto. Who wouldn’t?  He had fun playing low five and high five with her. As part of our trip it was arranged that we could adopt an elephant for the year.  The donation subsidized the orphanage, and we would get newsletters and updates about the elephant chosen. Sadly, I don’t think the rhino was chosen by many people. Why would they, when there were so many cute elephants to choose from?  The baby elephants stay in the orphanage for about ten years until they are able to be released into one of the wildlife parks or conservatories. Many of the babies come because their Mama’s were put poached.  You can read about the trust here.  www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.orgThen it was back to The House of Waine for dinner.  Another couple was ushered into the dining room before us, which of course got me wondering,  and then we were escorted into a special room for just the four of us!  We had a lovely dinner, of which I can’t remember what we ate, but here are the pictures to prove we did receive substanance!  We were very tired at this point and eager to return to our rooms, but there was more!A bottle of champagne and a congratulatory cake for Sally!  Then after we all got a slice it was back to the rooms. Sally and Collin had their bed all decoratively arranged with towel animals, we got nothing, but it wasn’t our celebration but hers after All!  

July 19, 2017 End of Karen Blixen’s and visit to Kazuri 

We finished up the interior tour of the Blixen’s House, and then were off to view the Ngong Hills in the back of the house. This is also where Karen would sit and tend to any sick workers or villagers.  TheNgong hills were where Denis Finch Hatton was buried.  You do remember that tearful scene from the movie, don’t you? Very sad.Ngong means “knuckle” in Swahili.  The trees have obviously grown since Karen was here. You can see just a bit of them in the right side of the photo.Then we were off for a short stroll through the woods to see some of the coffee machinery.  I was delighted that it was actually a short walk and not one of those killer hikes in Patagonia.  I can’t remember what this machine did, but it was under a metal shed. This is the area where the fire was.  Francis our guide told us that the fire that destroyed the coffee sheds was likely due to fires that the Maori started.  The Maori used fires to clear land.  Unfortunately for Katen, her coffee bean barns got in the way of the flames.  My snarky comment of the day is that it must have smelled wonderful.  Good bye Karen Blixen’s House on to Kazuri! Kazuri means ” small and beautiful ” in Swahili.  The Kazuri Bead factory is famous world wide for the beautiful jewelry.  Any unwed mother can get a job here. They will find a place for you.  If you remarry you can still stay.  Here is rock from the hills of Mt. Kenya.  Mixed in are pieces of fired clay that were imperfect and was ground up,with the rock to make new clay.  The ground rock is mixed with water to form a slurry which is formed into sheets and hung, and the water squeezed out.  You can see the clay hanging on the top right. Gradually enough water is removed so the clay can be used to make the famous beads.  There are men who work at the factory, this is one of their jobs.

Another job is the making of vases.  It takes them a year of apprenticeship before their vases are good enough to sell. Here is a potter in action.Here I am demonstrating one of the round bead making techniques.  Here we have a selection of beads, a necklace of unfired beads and then a picture of the kiln in which the beads are skewered and then fired at extremely high temperatures. Here we have a group that was touring the bead factory.  Our little group was so happy we chose not to be in a big group.  We had more flexibility, and didn’t have to wait for anyone but ourselves.  

Singing always makes the job more fun.  The ladies would break out in sing every few minutes.  Then wee were off to the next building where the beads were painted.  This is the order board for the jewelry.  You can see that the demand in Scandinavia is quite high!  Here are some finished beads, ready to be strung, into necklaces, bracelets or earrings. I was curious to find out if there was a song leader.  As you well know, Linda always finds out the answers.  Here is our song leader!  

Karen Blixen’s House Part 2

Let’s enter the house now. IMG_5105.JPGThis is Francis our driver attentively listening to our tour guide. We are in the living room and you can see the fireplace in the background. Karen would create stories for her guests based on the images on the folding screen. In the movie Denis, played by Robert Redford,  would give her goo goo eyes and dream of making love to her.IMG_5106 Here we have the famous record player.  IMG_5107Here is the bed where all the action happened!  Accordingly to museum guide Karen also spent a lot of time on the day bed as she suffered from syphiliis. In the movie the Baron was the foooler arounder, but we were told that she strayed first.IMG_5109 Here s the bathroom. Originally there were doors to the outside where the house boys would enter and remove the contents from the commode. IMG_5111 This is a picture of her good friend, Berkeley  They did a great job of casting him in the movie. Robert Redford was handsome but the real Denis Finch Hatton was not an American! Denis was horribly miscast! IMG_5108.JPG  These boots were in the closet of the Baron. I thought they were worn by Robert Redford in the movie, and was looking to see how high the heels were! In fact, they were actually worn by Meryl Streep!

IMG_0153Here is a picture of Karen Blixen’s. It was a special favorite of hers. I thought I did a brilliant imitation. I think I just needed a touch less pop of lipstick and more brown eyeshadow!