Iguana – Karen Blixen Out of Africa

Out of Africa, by Karen Blixen

Salamander

Salamander

Once I killed an iguana. I was rejoicing in advance, thinking of everything I could do with its skin. I then saw something I will never forget.

As I walked through the twenty steps that separated it from me, I saw it wither before my eyes as if all it’s shine expired in a long breath, and when I got to touch it it was just a lump of cement, grey and dull.

It is the blood that runs under its skin that gives this magnificent shine. Once the flamme has been put out, and the soul has flown away it does no longer exist: it becomes a lump of sand”.

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Xsalamandra

Salamander

“J’ai  tué une fois un iguane, je me réjouissais à l’avance de tout ce que je pourrais faire de sa peau, et je fus témoin d’un phénomène que je n’ai jamais oublié.

Pendant que je franchissais les quelques vingt mètres qui le séparaient de moi, je le vis se faner sous mes yeux, comme si tout son éclat s’exhalait en un long soupir, et lorsque je pus le toucher, ce n’était plus d’un bloc de ciment, gris mat.

C’est le sang qui court sous la peau de la bête qui lui donne son merveilleux éclat.

Lorsque la flamme s’est éteinte et l’âme envolée, l’iguane n’existe pas plus qu’un tas de sable”.

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Maasai Mara

Single male elephant in the Savannah

Single male elephant in the Savannah

Safari is a kiswahili word meaning ” to go”, to go on a trip.

Meryl Streep/ Karen Blixen: Did you think you would stay for the night?

Robert Redford/ Denis Finch-Hatton: I can’t I’ve booked a safari. I’m going to the Mara.

Out of Africa. Click here to read an article about Karen Blixen and her home in Nairobi

The largest wildlife reserve of Kenya

Wildebeest feeding

Wildebeest feeding

Maasai Mara is known as the largest wildlife reserve in Kenya. It’s named after the river Mara which is shared with Tanzania, and famous for being crossed in June and October by the wildebeest which migrate South to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Reserve.  It’s very risky….many of them are killed by the crocodiles.

In Tanzania, the name of the territory is Serengeti. The reserve is shared by both countries, Tanzania having the largest portion of it. It is 25000 km2 out of which  1800 km2 are located in the Kenyan territory. It’s at 1600 m altitude, which means that it’s not as hot as we could expect.

Sausage tree

Sausage tree

In Maasai Mara, the mountains are purple, the sky is deep blue, the grass of the savannah is the same colour as the lions fur and on the trees, sausages grow. They are used by the Maasais to make beer (check this article regarding how they make beer out of the fruit of the sausage tree). Continue reading

Karen Blixen

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!

Karen Blixen's home today a museum

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