Through the Kitengela Looking Glass

I was going through pictures on my camera and came across photos from our trip to Kitengela that I meant to post about back in January.  For lack of a more appropriate word, I have to say it was a pretty magical experience (and I mean that in the least corny way possible).  That said, even though it's about 4 months overdue, I didn't want it to go by unreported.  

The first time I learned about Kitengela Hot Glass I immediately became a fan.  Using only recycled materials, they re-purpose and refashion things like scrap windows and used bottles into "functional art."  And ever since I found out that their glass studio is open to the public, I had been dying to go.  Finally, in an effort to seize the last remaining days of T's holiday break, we decided to venture out to Kitengela. 

Located almost directly across town and bordering Nairobi National Park, we knew it was going to be a trek but it certainly ended up being much more of an adventure than we bargained for.  For about an hour we had our car climbing jagged rocks, practically fording rivers, and plowing through muddy marshes.  We seriously had to wonder how any of Kitengela's inventory makes it to their branch stores in one piece. 

When we finally arrived, we quickly found ourselves left to our own devices as all of the glass blowers were still on holiday break.  With the grounds practically deserted, we were free to wander alone through the campus, a haphazardly winding conglomeration of studios, galleries, and stores strewn with sculptures and mosaics ranging from whimsical to verging on bizarre.

One of the highlights of the trip was sipping tea while swinging off the the balcony of the upstairs gallery.  Built from what looks like scrap wood and metal, it definitely felt like hanging out in a glorified tree house.  From there, we could gaze across a river gorge at the neighboring National Park.  Through the trees, we spied a rickety wire bridge stretching across the glen.  

Once we discovered it, we of course had to try going across the bridge which then led us to a Maasai Lodge Resort just in time for lunch.  Sitting poolside, we enjoyed a nyoma choma feast before heading back across the river to Kitengela.  I have to say that with all the inconveniences of living in a developing country, with the unreliable power, unpaved roads, and constant traffic jams, there are also these surreal places and moments that until coming to Kenya I could only fantasize about.  I suppose it's a small price to pay to feel like you're living in a real fairy tale for a day.  


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