Thursday, April 4, 2013

the hyenas are getting married

 It was "Sunday Adventure Day." We were planning to go hiking in the Oloolua Forest near the Karen neighborhood of Nairobi.  We ran into some serious traffic on Ngong Road (not entirely unpredictable) so we decided to pull into the Junction mall to have a snack and reassess our plans to tackle the traffic.  Sadly, the Java House at Junction had just sold it's last chocolate croissant.  Oleana was devastated.  So, since our newly devised rout to Karen involved passing by another Java House anyway, we decided to chase down a chocolate croissant!  We found one at Adams Arcade Java - the very first Java House ever to open.  The girls and I had never been to this branch so it was lots of fun for them to explore this cool organic climbing structure in the courtyard after our snack.   
 A bit later than planned we arrived at the Oloolua Nature Trail.  The forest is beautiful and quite different from the Karura Forest that we visit often and I have posted about here.  Karura Forest has been manipulated quite a bit;  while there are many beautiful pristine spots in the forest there are also several areas that have been cut down and replanted over the years with non natives.  The Oloolua Forest, on the other hand, feels ancient.  The growth is all native and the canopy is so thick that there is very little undergrowth. 

 There is a giant cave that extends back 25 meters into the hillside!  It was reportedly used by Mao Mao Freedom Fighters prior to independence. 
"stairs" descending to river and waterfall

huge butterfly as big as my hand

Just down the road from the Nature trail is The Karen Blixten House and Museum.  I have been wanting to go here since we arrived in Kenya, but it was not such a priority for the rest of the family... Since we were so close today and I told them that there might be a snack counter (which, unfortunately there was not) they agreed to stop by for a tour. 

As we walked the grounds of the Karen Blixen Estate a little bit of rain sprinkled down on us, but most of the sky above was still blue.  Oleana said we should look for rainbows.  Nile said that in Korea they say that if it rains when the sun is shining it means that the tigers are crying.  Hearing this, our guide said that in African culture they say that if this happens it means that the hyenas are getting married!  Humm?  

Karen Blixten who wrote Out Of Africa, under the pen name Isaac Dinesen lived here for 22 years, arriving in about 1917.
While she lived in Kenya she attempted to make a living growing coffee.  She owned 6,000 acres at the foot of the Ngong hills.  While on the tour we also learned that the word Ngong is Maasai and it means "knuckles" which the shape of the hills resemble.  When her attempts at growing coffee ultimately failed she sold the land to a developer who later named the land Karen - a name which stuck and is still what the entire area is called today.

Our tour of the property included the house in a state of repair and the coffee processing equipment that had been imported from England and Scotland.
nice sign as you walk into the house

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