February 20th, 1992
Shuttle from NBO – DAR – NBO
Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya
Easy flight to and from Dar es Salaam, with light passenger loads and a short flying time. The worst thing about it was getting up in the middle of the night but the flip side was being back in time for breakfast, which Mum and I enjoyed on the tiny balcony.
“What do ye think of Thor?”
“He seems nice,” I replied, popping a chunk of chocolate croissant in my mouth, giving Mum the perfect cue to speak.
“I think he’s smashing, ye know ye canny beat a friendly guy with a good sense of humour. I woke up thinking about the flamingos, wasn’t that something else yesterday, I’ll never forget it. And to think their pinkness comes from eating shrimp! Did ye hear me asking Thor how much shrimp cocktail I’d have to eat in first class before I turn pink? Och, it’s lovely being in the sun isn’t it and I know ye don’t think the hotel is anything special but I think it’s fine and I have to say, everybody I’ve met has been very friendly. What did ye think of Karen Blixen’s place? Wasn’t it magnificent? I felt like we were on the set of Out of Africa. D’ye remember the scene where Robert Redford and Meryl Streep fly over the flamingos, och I just love that, especially now I’ve seen it all for myself. Oh and that bit when she reaches back and he takes her hand. What a handsome man he is. Never seems to age, mind you neither does she. I can see why Karen Blixen spent so much of her life here, it really is a very special place and quite amazing to think of all the animals roaming free, och, it’s just fantastic. I’ll be sad to leave, won’t you? Oh, and I’ve been meaning to ask, what do we wear tonight to, what’s the restaurant called again?”
“That’s some name for a restaurant, eh? I hope they don’t have giraffe on the menu!”
“You eat meat, Mum, what’s the difference?”
“Aye,” she uttered, turning her attention to the strips of bacon on the plate. “But the giraffes are special.”
At a loss for words, I drained the last of my tea and enjoyed the short-lived lull, interrupted by a knock at the door that startled Mum. “Who’s that?”
“No idea,” I shrugged, pushing back the plastic chair. “As hard as it is to believe, I don’t yet possess the ability to see through doors!”
“Don’t be cheeky,” Mum grinned, smacking my leg as I went to answer the door.
When I stepped back onto the balcony, Mum had her face turned to the sun.
“Lookie here,” I said, handing her the giant box of chocolates with a scene of the Ngong Hills. The other package was wrapped in flamingo gift wrap but first Mum opened the chocolates. I chuckled at the sight of the animal shapes within. “Yum,” I said, reaching for a giraffe as Mum tore the paper from the package and asked if it was from Thor.
“Uh-huh,” I nodded, swallowing what was left of the giraffe. “He had someone deliver them but yes, they’re from him. There’s a little card, see? Says he’s looking forward to having dinner with us tonight.”
Mum held up the book she’d just unwrapped. “Recognize her?”
“That’s the woman we met at the giraffe centre. She’s a writer? Let me see.”
I quickly scanned the author blurb. “They call her the giraffe lady. Oh, wow, she’s one of the founders of the giraffe center, along with her husband Jock. That must be him on the front cover with her. And that must be Daisy, the giraffe they raised, what a great book title; Raising Daisy Rothschild.”
Mum seemed more interested in the chocolates so I continued reading. “It says they live in a home designed as a Scottish hunting lodge, called Giraffe Manor.”
Mum peered over at the book cover, her expression one of approval. “He looks quite handsome, doesn’t he? We probably should’ve agreed to have tea with her!”