February 18th, 1992
Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya
Mum and I are having the most fantastic time and today we went to the Rothschild Giraffe Centre, a place I’ve long longed to visit! From the pamphlet, we discovered that the Centre was founded by Jock Leslie-Melville, the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish Earl. Well, that was all Mum needed to hear before she started on about how proud she is to be Scottish (something I’ve never heard her express before!) From that point on, every other word she uttered was heavily punctuated with “ochs” and “ayes,” leaving Issac, the guide, looking quite bewildered!
Mum commented that the giraffe’s tongue felt like sandpaper and Issac was about to answer when he stopped and turned his attention to a woman who appeared a little out of breath from having climbed the stairs, to the feeding platform.
“Good afternoon,” he nodded, with a wide smile.
“Allow me,” she said, with just a hint of an American accent. The guide passed the bucket to her and with an easy manner, she continued feeding the giraffes with us and introduced herself as, “Betty.”
Betty was a mine of information and shared some fascinating facts about the Rothschild giraffes but she seemed especially interested in our Scottish ancestry and asked what brought us to Kenya.
“Karen’s getting married!” Mum gushed. “This is our last wee hurrah!”
Betty’s eyes widened. “Congratulations! You chose, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on earth to visit. Where will you be married?”
“In the States.” She looked surprised. “My fiancé is from Massachusetts.”
“Ah, New England,” she smiled. “A Summer wedding?”
I shook my head and tried not to laugh, “No, it’s eleven days from now!”
We continued chatting and by the time the bucket was empty, we’d learned that Betty was born in Maryland and shared with her (third!) husband, a great passion for animals and their wellbeing. Sensing she had more to impart, I wasn’t surprised when she asked if we’d like to join her for tea. Mum glanced at me with an, “It’s up to you,” expression.
“Thank you, that’s very kind of you but we have a driver waiting to take us to the Karen Blixen museum.”
“Karen Blixen was a woman ahead of her time,” she stated. “The museum is delightful, you must go and enjoy it but promise you’ll return and tell the giraffes all about your winter wonderland wedding.”