Playing tourist in Nairobi with a Friend-Kitengela Glass

The best travel lesson I’ve learned is that travel is better when you have someone to reminisce with later. I’m a difficult travel buddy. I can be moody, capricious and like doing things my way which makes acting on my ideal of traveling with others hard. Hence why I was elated when one of my best friends bought tickets to Nairobi to see me and Kenya in the middle of May.


Some of the first memories Kelly and I have of our friendship are the two of us sharing crayons on the back row of Mrs. Larson’s first grade classroom. Let’s not add up the years, but let’s just say we go way back. Now when we get together we joke that we have to stay friends forever or otherwise we’ll forget half of our lives. She remembers scenes from our lives like the working the spotlights together for plays and shows in our hometown of Livingston, Texas. I remember the little details like the ponytail one of the cast emerged with in Scene II that made me completely forget my lines and almost fall to the stage in a fit of sixteen year old giggles. She recalls feeding us our lines from offstage so loudly that the audience heard her.

We threw a party just before I left the US in January, and in all the craziness I almost forgot to invite Kelly. Two days before the party when we were chatting I invited her to make the 5 hour drive to Greensboro from D.C. and she replied, “Sure, I think I can come.  Sounds fun!” And two days later she took my new Lonely Planet guidebook for Kenya upstairs with her for night time reading.

The next morning she came downstairs and before she had a cup of coffee in her hand she said, “I’m coming to visit you.  Looks like I should avoid March and April because it’s rainy. Let me know a good time and I’m going to start checking flights and vacation time.” Three months later, we were hugging at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

We took a weekend trip back to Kericho and we hit the sites in and around Nairobi as well. I’ll share the photos from our tea factory and elephant orphanage visit in another post, but here are the ones from our morning spent at Kitengela Glass.

There are two places named Kitengela that work with glass: Kitengela Hot Glass and Kitengela Glass. You’d be forgiven for being confused. One is run by German expat Nani Croze and the other by her son Anselm. Rumor is that despite living next to each other, these two artists have an ongoing feud and haven’t talked in years. Anselm’s studio specializes in blown glass and Nani’s in cut glass.

Kelly and I spent a few hours walking the grounds with our jaws dropped. Words just can’t explain the whimsy and artistry at this place. I think it would be like walking through Jim Henson’s imagination.

We stopped for lunch at Rolf’s, overlooking Nairobi National Park. While we were eating our food and splitting a cold Tusker, I finally spotted my first twiga (giraffe) after four months of living in Kenya.

Lunchtime View from Rolf's into Nairobi National Park

I’m back home in North Carolina now, but still have a few more posts planned that I think you’ll enjoy.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. -C.S. Lewis


3 responses to “Playing tourist in Nairobi with a Friend-Kitengela Glass

  1. Love this post of course! I had an amazing time in Kenya with you and so glad that we have many more stories to keep us connected when we’re old women with canes. 🙂 I think you were a terrific travel buddy because I’m like you; sometimes I like travelling alone so I can do all the random things I want. We need to start planning our next adventure together.

  2. Pingback: Playing Tourist In Nairobi Goes Big | Jada goes to Kenya·

  3. Pingback: Tea! | Jada goes to Kenya·

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