This post is dedicated to the lady who let me in at a Resident Fee even though I had no proof of it.
“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills…”
Last weekend I went to Karen Blixen’s home. It’s located in Nairobi in an area called Karen… Guess why!
Her book Out of Africa is truly beautiful and funny. You learn a lot by reading it recommend it: even if you’ve loved the movie with Streep and Redford, you’ll still think the book is really wonderful and way deeper.
I had imagined her house much bigger: it’s a cozy bungalow with mahogony wood inside the stone walls to moderate the temperatures. I was surprised to see some of the paintings she had done of her squatters: that’s the name given to the people who lived in her farm. As talented for painting as she was for writing.
From her place you could see the Ngong Hills which means knuckles named thus because of their shape.
The place is located 16 km southwest of Nairobi : at that time it took two hours to reach! The Prince of Wales came to dine at her table and you can still see the menu. In her book, Blixen describes her Chef Kimante as exceptional, unlike the way he is portrayed in the movie, and he would never forget the recipes and named them according to the context in which they had been taught to him “ Thousand night stars fish” for example.
She always used to wear two hats because she was afraid her brain would melt due to the sun…
Initially it had been decided that her husband and her would have a cattle farm, but her husband Baron Blixen changed his mind advised by the other “expats” and bought coffee plantations instead. In this particular area it was too high for it to grow properly. After divorcing, and losing her lover in a plane crash, she left Africa broke and desperate and focused on writing. She published her books under the name of Isak Dinesen.
For more info about the book click here