Before leaving home, Ron forced me to watch Out of Africa. I was only resistant because I really am not a Meryl Streep fan, but we did watch it together. I have to say, I was floored with Streep’s ability to do the accent. The movie had me enthralled, but as it is Hollywood, they make changes for the movie version. Ron read the book, but I have not yet. One of the things he had on his “To do” list was to visit her house, which is now a museum.
Image via Wikipedia
His back is still bothering him, so we decided to do this today. It is located in one of the outer parts of Nairobi, a good taxi ride away. Since we were doing the taxi thing, we decided to combine trips. Our first stop was an African consortium of handicrafts with about 20 different vendors all in one place. Proceeds from sales either go to the support of the tribe that made the product or for wildlife preservation. We told the driver we wanted about thirty minutes here, but once inside, we could have spent more than an hour and thirty minutes. Unlike some establishments of this nature, once you have really looked over the merchandise from one shop, you have seen it all. It was an unexpected surprise to find that this was not the case here. Each room, a different vendor, had unique merchandise not available in other rooms by other vendors. Knowing we would be back in Nairobi for three days before we return, we looked, made lists, but did not buy anything now. There was no sense in hauling it around for the next 4 weeks. Fortunately or unfortunately, they do take credit cards. I have quite the list and Ron found a number of things that grabbed his fancy too.
From here, we went to Karen Blixen‘s Museum, the Danish woman who wrote Out of Africa based on her life here, before returning destitute to Copenhagen. The movie really came to life as soon as we were on the property. They filmed the outside scenes using this house. The interior scenes were filmed in a different house, because this one did not yet have electricity. We were treated to have James as our tour guide. He was extremely knowledgeable, loved her books (Blixen wrote 9 total, but not all of Africa), and the movie. Though he could not have been but a mere baby at the time of the movie, he made sure he knew ever detail there was to tell. We learned which pieces of furniture were authentic, which were reproductions and which were left from the movie. We also were treated to seeing the pants Robert Redford wore during the filming. Throughout the house were paintings Blixen painted of using some of her native staff as models; she was an accomplished artist.
In the back lot, we saw the remains of her coffee works, the roaster and all. It was moved to this location for the movie, but was originally down by the river. Everything was fascinating, but James added an infectious appeal to the tour that we would never have experienced with anyone less enthusiastic. He was charming.
Our last stop was the Ya-Ya Center, an upscale ex-pat hang-out according to Lonely Planet. It would better be described as a mall. It was a bit of culture shock, but totally appropriate that the women who served at the information desk were dressed as Santa’s elves. Normally, this would not cause a second look at this time of year, except they were all black. Directly behind the elves, Santa was sitting on his throne, ringing a bell trying to get some kiddie to sit on his lap, but to no avail. He too was black. It reminded me of the movie The Perfect Holiday with Morris Chestnut. It is a Christmas movie with an all black cast.
The worst thing about paranoia with potential crime is that I don’t travel around with lots of money or my credit cards. We brought enough cash to last us for the first week or so I thought. Little did I realize that Kenya was not going to be the bargain I had anticipated, but it is the taxi costs that are eating into the budget. Before we left the hotel, I had changed 50 euros. When we said good-bye to our three trip taxi driver, I only had 1,800 Kenyan shillings left. Knowing we would need 500 to 800 to taxi back, we had little left for any drinks or snacks. If only I had brought my ATM card with me. We managed to get 2 coffees and a pastry each, so we were not about to starve. The ride back was 500 shillings, so I am almost on empty once again.