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Searching for Karen Blixen

7th November 2010

We are driven to Karen Camp in Karen – all named after Karen von Blixen whose farm was once based in the suburb (or rather the suburb WAS her farm!)

It now doesn’t look anything like „Out of Africa“, but I am still hoping to see her house, especially as AH’s mum would have known it.

We are told it’s a 10 minute walk, and I am a little bit puzzled when we are advised to take a cab back for US$5. Do they think Europeans can only walk for 10 minutes one way?

When we tell the security guard where we are going, he says it’s too far for a walk, but changes his mind when he finds out that we have the info from the bar manager (whom he would consider his superior I suppose – and you don’t argue with superiors in that part of the world.)

We are keen to go for a walk anyway, but soon decide to ask a young woman in Western clothes who is coming towards us with her young son for direction. She says she used to live in Fulham and tells us that we have been walking in the wrong direction: „It’s not far. I’ll show you.“

I beg to differ. It takes an hour to walk to our destination, partly because there is a lot of confusion about which one is the right building.

There are a lot of buildings here either called „Karen“ after the suburb or „Karen Blixen.“

When we finally get to the gate of the right building, the gate is shut. We’ve missed the entrI beg to differ. It takes an hour to walk to our destination, partly because there is a lot of confusion about which one is the right building.

There are a lot of buildings here either called „Karen“ after the suburb or „Karen Blixen.“

When we finally get to the gate of the right building, the gate is shut. We’ve missed the entry by 10 minutes, and for a change, they seem to be sticklers for time here.

All I can do is try to take a picture through the bars. Most of the house is hidden from view, so there is not much to see...

AH is on edge by now. As darkness falls, he remembers stories of people being robbed and left for dead at the side of the road. He is suspicious that a woman with a child would go out of her way to show us this place. The little boy is tired and has been carried by his mum for a good while.

His presence makes me feel safe. To me the problem is one of the different perception of distance and effort in Africa. Everyone is walking much longer than we Europeans are usually used to, so „not far“ is very relative. Next time I shall ask „Not far in comparison to what?“

AH is nervous about the cab the woman orders, but we are left with little choice. It’s too dark to walk back – we haven’t even brought torches.

The driver charges US$5 – exactly what I had been told at the outset, so I believe everything was genuine.

I feel a bit bad that we never give the woman a tip (not sure whether she was expecting one). All we do is offer her and her son a lift.

She asks me for a contact when she is next in the UK, and I give her one of my e-mails.

AH is still on an Adrenalin high – for the first time I see him smoke a cigarette! I think this time he had the more vivid imagination (one could of course also argue that I can be blissfully naive...)

Posted by TTraveller 07:23 Archived in Kenya

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