It was a quiet, busy morning of packing and cleaning up after ourselves.
John our driver for the next four days arrived early and he is just lovely.
John drive us straight out towards the Marula Studios where old thongs are recycled into sculptures.
As we drove into the outskirts of Karen, I was shocked at how run down all the buildings are now.
Entrepreneurs ran all sorts of businesses ( furniture building, playground equipment, huge pits) on the side of the road. Later over lunch, John told us that his wife and her mum rent 40 tiny houses out in that area. Renting one of these house is 4000 K/sh ($40 US) a month,
In Karen itself, the area looked upperclass, embassy homes in any country with huge hedges dwarfing the cars and people. We pulled in to Marula Studios to see some Saturday stalls being set up. We asked a stall holder where to go to get to the studio and she said it has been closed for 9 months!!!
John took us straight to our next thing on the day’s itinerary- Kazuri Beads where women left destitute in their community are trained in the process and art of creating these unique beads.
Our guide showed us through each of the studios. We saw the process from the dry clay brought in from Mt Kenya, to the shaping, the heating, the painting, the glazing.
It was a thorough tour that I cannot remember doing as a child.
We ventured in to the shop to buy some of the finished product.
The Giraffe Centre was next. I only saw about 6 giraffe. We fed them pellets and Flynn did that cool thing where he held the pellet between his lips and the giraffe took it! Brave boy as he is such a germaphobe.
As we readied to leave, to our dismay, John informed us that we still had still had an hour and a half to kill before our much anticipated Carnivore lunch.
We stopped in at a curio shop and browsed for quite a while to kill time. When it came to pricing, Kara emerged as the dark horse of driving-a-bargain. She would have had better results too, I think if they weren’t annoyed that we browsed so long and got so little.
The owner of the kiosk could not BELIEVE that we ventured to Kariokor market; it must have a bit of a repuatatuon!
John our driver skidded us past Karen Blixen House before driving us to Carnivore.
It was just as I remembered, but decked out for Christmas.
John advised us not to eat the soup, but to wait for all the meat.
The soup, a thick vegetable broth that had meaty undertones was just so moreish though and in the blink of an eye, I could see the bottom of my bowl!
After a waiter produced the sauces and salad, and explained the red flag that we needed to take down if we got too full and surrendered, the meat began coming.
John has also told us not to waste precious stomach room on sausages. This time I listened. We had beef, lamb, poke spare ribs, beef spare ribs, chicken drumsticks, ostrich, crocodile and buffalo balls. Kara wants it noted that she abstained from the ostrich and crocodile.
The rest of us sampled everything, some a few times.
Bodie tried the very refreshing Dr Dawa drink- made from ……………..,,,,,,. I had a sip and was yummy, like an alcoholic fresh lime juice.
It was nearly time to go, so we had a bit of yummy dessert that was included on the price and John took us towards Naivasha.
We were pressed for time actually and there was a lot of traffic, so John spent a worrying amount of the journey on the wrong side of the road, overtaking like crazy and screeching back into our lane just in the nick of time.
I would say 1/3 rd of the trip was spent in the wrong lane. It somehow didn’t feel nearly as dangerous as if we had tried the same in Australia. Here, drivers seem to expect that other drivers are coming at them for every direction and breaking every road rule (like A LOT) so they drive to accommodate for it and most of the time everyone seemed to get along.
At one stage there was a dreadful traffic jam that John couldn’t avoid. We heard sirens and barreling down the WRONG lane came a police car. The 3 police immediately jumped out, popped their high-vis on and ran into the thick of it, shouting at vehicles and getting things moving. The cause of the traffic jam was a broken down matatu.
Matatus have changed since my time. These small vans used to cram far more people in than legal and the little bus boy would often leave the side door open and hang out it to entice more people in. Now, every passenger needs a seatbelt, so it is very civilized.
Happy to have left the city behind we gazed at the rural scene around us. Everyone seemed to be hard at work and there was a happy vibe between them all. What confuses me is that EVERYONE seems to be selling something and no one seems to be buying. Maybe they buy from each other.
Clothes, shoes, and food kiosks lined both sides of the road. Small herds of sheep and cattle and the occasional donkey grazed alongside.
Then the vehicle began the climb until we reached the escarpment overlooking the Rift Valley.
WHAT A VIEW!
So many exotic kiosks took advantage of the view and the tug of the tourist to stop and look. John pulled in at the lookout.
The view was incredible as we could see for miles and the clouds brought a strong game to the photos. So happy!
At the base of the lookout we could see curious rock hyrax clambering around.
Now, as we continued to drive, on the edge of the road sat baboons. Just doing life. Picking at each other’s bottoms, sitting inappropriate so everything was hanging out, or cheekily eating roasted maize.
Half an hour late to our bar ride, we trundled down the very bumpy road into Lake Naivasha.
Time for a boat ride around the lake to spot hippos, fish eagles and actually a LOT of other animals.
The ride was beautiful; we saw about 40 hippos and our guide Edward knew all the territorial spats that were going on between them.
He threw a fish out for the fish eagle so we could see it swoop down,
He took us over to the little island where a bunch of wildlife were brought in for scenes from the movie Out of Africa ( Edward called it Dreaming of Africa at first, which confused us)
My ASMR triggers kicked in as he kept saying ‘the island’ in the best way ever. I could have sat in that boat for hours if he could have kept saying it.
After our ride, it was starting to get late.
John let us pull into the crazy busy town of Naivasha to get chapati for dinner and groceries for breakfast food and snacks.
We then drove FAST to KIjabe and mostly on the wrong side of the road. John got a phone call saying that the lower road could be dangerous so go on the high toad. This drive is one I had taken many times as a teenager. I just soaked it in.
We quickly checked in to the AIC Kijabe Motel, then went to see RVA. RVA is the American coed boarding school nestled up overlooking the great Rift Valley. It was my home from grades 9-12.
Well let me tell you, RVA is now a fortress. You cannot get in without an apppointment or a verification from someone. The person I had spoken to about visiting had not mentioned this at all. He had just said, ‘sure you can drop in and look around’
Umm, apparently not. The very professional security called this person and that person trying to get me verified. John our driver gave me a hotspot to dredge up the permission email.
By this time it was dark and John did not have his accommodation for the night and my patience was gone. I didn’t care if we didn’t see it anymore.
The security man called me over again as he had Mark Kinzer ( principal?) on the phone. He told me he would email security so I could get in at 7:30 in the morning.
We came back to our motel where John scored a room. There was no power ( welcome to Kenya, fambam) so while the manager went to start the generator we ate chapati by the light of our phone torches.
The power came on after half an hour and we headed to bed early.
I must be a little jet lagged as I am writing this at 3:45 in the morning.
Today after another attempt to penetrate fortress RVA, we head to Enchoro tented camp and Masai Mara.
It is bucketing down rain outside. It is the short rains here at present. So I bless the rains down in Africa!
John took a bunch of UN reps to the Mara last week and saw heaps of lions so we are hopeful.
Everyone is doing well; they are enjoying Kenya in their own ways. Flynn is obsessing about a set of coasters from our infamous Kariokor market visit. He hasn’t found another set like it and seeing as they appear to weigh about 5 kilos, I think he has Buckley’s chance of getting them successfully into his luggage.0