Tea Time

As I mentioned in my previous post this trip has been really focused on research and appreciating daily life in Nairobi vs. last time when I went on adventures every weekend. However, last week I posted on an email chain for alumni from my grad school that I was going to this tea farm someone recommended and I asked if anyone wanted to join.

I couldn’t tell if I was bluffing. Would I actually go if no one joined? It wouldn’t be the biggest deal as it is only about 45 minutes outside of the city, but I wasn’t sure if I would go through with it. Would I be utterly humiliated if the email went unanswered? I waited and hoped that people replied.

Within a few days we had a group of four other girls with vague connections to each other who were interested in the excursion. The coordination was fantastic with one person booking a van to take us and another making the reservations at the farm.

One of my favorite things about traveling on my own for longer than just a quick vacation is that you often end up in random groups of people, but the group can easily connect on an adventure. It eases any trace of loneliness to be doing something new with new people. I felt immediately comfortable and excited in this group.

We were a perfect group for this excursion. While others in the bigger tour group seemed to zone out while the British woman (Fiona) giving the tour was speaking we all stood there taking in every word. We quickly became the teacher’s pet with Fiona providing us with anecdotes in between the tour spots. I joked that we were going to pull out our notebooks and start taking notes. I learned more about the tea industry in Kenya and tea in general than I knew there was to learn.

After Fiona gave the official tour about tea a Kenyan man she worked with and her dog were tasked with walking us through the forest preserve that her grandfather bought when he first came to Kenya. The dog was a vital part of the tour and we were told to follow his lead and when he laid down at a spot that meant we should stop there and wait for our tour guide to begin talking. As we walked through the forest we smelled useful medicinal plants (citronella which explained the lack of bugs in the forest) and plants that people used for toothaches, stomach aches, joint problems. This forest could put my natural supplement store in Boston to shame. We came to a pile that looked like a compost heap and the guide explained they left out food for the monkeys in the forest here so that they wouldn’t ram-shack their garden. They also fed bananas to the Colobus monkeys around their property (wasn’t this a cliché that monkeys ate bananas?)

We then finally sat down for the lunch (what I had been waiting for). It felt like being at a vineyard with the beautiful tables set-up across the lawn and courses with soup, bread, rice and meat, cheese, and, my favorite, homemade ice-cream made from the milk of the cows we saw at the beginning of our tour.

After lunch, we wandered into Fiona’s house looking at old wedding photos. It seems like everyone in her family got married at the estate. We purchased tea to take home (which I will never drink in the same way) and headed back to Nairobi. We chatted the whole way home unraveling new layers as we got to know each other better.

That night I came home and felt unbelievably content. I ordered Indian food delivery because I want to savor the amazing Indian food in Nairobi before I leave. As I see the number of malaria pills I have left dwindling I am realizing how quickly this trip will be coming to an end. This last week I am setting up as many meetings as I can, but am not as afraid of the downtime and I am not pressuring myself to meet every last person or do every last thing. I am accepting that this trip will be coming to an end, but a new adventure could be around the corner.

 

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Fiona teaching us about tea

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Our guide

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“Ice cream makers” as our guide called them

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