I wrote a post recently about Karen Blixen’s story – her years in Africa as told by her in the book “Out of Africa”, which also became a famous film in mid 1980s. While her story is intriguing, I loved the book and the film much because of the way both describe the beauty of the African landscape.
While Karen Blixen loved her farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills close to Nairobi, and admired the natural beauty of the hills, she also got familiar with the Indian Ocean coast through her friendship and romance with Denys Finch-Hatton.
Finch-Hatton had purchased land and built a house right on the coast in Takaunga, just north of Mombasa. He used to bring Blixen there for romantic getaways in his small plane, Gypsy Moth. The white long stretch of beaches made a great landing strip close to the house.
Blixen fell in love with the coastal beauty and wrote in her book ”a divine, clean, barren marine greatness, with the blue Indian Ocean before you . . .”
She continued ” When the tide is out you can still walk miles away seawards from the house, as on a tremendous, somewhat unevenly paved piazza, picking up strange long peaked shells and starfish.” And indeed, it is easy to see what she meant by that.
Luckily Blixen was busy liquidating her coffee farm and did not accompany Finch-Hatton in May 1931 when he came to his coastal paradise for the last time. He died on his way back to Nairobi when his plane crashed in Voi where he had been spotting elephants from the air.
I came here for the first time almost 25 years ago – and fell in love with the beauty of the area as well. In the many years when we lived in land-locked countries in Africa, we used to come here to enjoy the ocean and everything this wonderful coast has to offer.
Today of course, many hotels have been built on the beach both south and north of Mombasa. Many of them, although completely modern, have been built in a style that fits the African coastal landscape.
Besides the wonderful, white beaches where we used to walk miles and miles, scuba diving on the reef or parasailing over the clear waters, one could enjoy life around the pool, do short safaris … and admire the delightful presentations of food at the dinner buffets. Many of these were true works of art beautifully displaying local seafood, fruits and vegetables.
After the dessert, one could enjoy evening entertainment by the poolside presented by Masai dancers and other local artists.
I have fond memories of these trips. I remember that walking on the beach, I could almost hear and see Finch-Hatton’s small plane land there for a romantic escape with Karen Blixen. I hope to visit again one day.