‘Give a girl the right pair of heels and she can take over the world’.
Said by ‘they’
Anybody who’s had the misfortune of seeing me attempt to walk in five and above inch heels would rate my walking (read Hulk impression) a strong 2/10. It’s nothing new if you ever meet me at wherever, and I’m in my trusty ol’ ngomas or boots or flats – basically any footwear that doesn’t have unresolved issues with gravity or my knee structure.
But there’s a method to this madness dear reader. See these red tired girls?
They’ve seen places my twice-worn, blue, six inch graduation heels haven’t. They’ve gone on almost every single bad-decision-making escapade with me – these my non-judgmental soles. They’re comfortable. Cosy. Easy to wear. I like to imagine that if there were ever a shoe world with shoe people, then they’d never be the cool kids. They’d be ‘others’ – the wallflowers who don’t necessarily have snap chat accounts; who don’t insist on meeting up for drinks at loud joints Friday through Saturday. No. These girls? They’d probably have their headphones taped to their little shoe heads on blast 98% of the time, listening to everything from Jason Mraz to Jah Cure to DMX to Abba. They’d be respectful girls though, with hidden ‘Serena William’ strength – so don’t try em. They’d constantly be mistaken for shy loners…but they wouldn’t mind it. On the contrary, their constantly day dreaming selves would be too busy figuring out what that cloud is shaped like.
The method to the madness. . .
See then how it was a no brainer that they’d be the babies to take the skies with me and safely deliver my curious self to the White Elephant Art Lodge?
Thing is, I’ve had a strong desire to see an art centre/gallery outside of Nairobi. S.T.R.O.N.G. Do not get me wrong, Nairobi is the most vibrant art destination I’ve engaged with. I’ve found everything here. The installation artists, the conceptual artists, the art fairs and art talks, the exhibitions and studio openings – all of it!
But I was made here…so I can’t quite call it choice more than it is chance – a force of circumstance. It may be the reason that I have this unshakable belief that there are many more unexplored art centers and galleries out there. You know how the African proverb goes – until the lions learn how to speak, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter? Same rationale. I figure there’s gems the world – okay me, I – haven’t discovered yet, and if given the chance, could completely transform my way of thinking.
So four weeks ago, I had business in Mombasa. But detours must be had, otherwise, what is dangerous living? I especially wanted to visit Malindi while there because I have an inexplicable liking for this town.
Curiously, I typed ‘art places in Malindi’ in the search bar.
The results worth checking out for me were two – The White Elephant Art Lodge, and The Malindi Museum.
Fastforward to Friday 28th June…
The plane touches down and immediately the smell of humid air whacks me across the nozzle. Smells awful. Sisi kama watu wa highlands hatujazoea hii hewa nzito (translation – I’m happy to be here!)
I’m not sure where to go next, or if the Lodge is one of those familiar places to the locals there – like ‘Jiweke’ is to Nairobi millenials here. But I leave the airport with crossed fingers, heart in hand and big bag in tow and ask a tuk tuk guy parked outside if he knows where the lodge is.
He does. Joy!
15 minutes later, I’m dropped at this tall, medieval looking, very intimidating big gate. I’m almost hesitant to get out of the tuktuk, but before I’m given a chance to second guess myself, a grinning Maasai-shuka-clothed man comes to greet me – his name is Simon.
Tuk Tuk guy to Simon: “Nimewaletea mgeni”
Simon: “Eh. Naona. Asante. Mgeni karibu sana”
I smile, still unsure.
Simon picks up my bag without a word and enters the gate. He starts leading me to the reception desk. I follow him closely, all the while gawking at how beautiful this place is. I’m already so excited that I want to skip past the ‘pass by the reception’ bit and the pleasantries, and get to the ‘see everything’ bit. Dorah is dying to explore mate!
(You guy my guy, there’s a tall, giant woman sculpture at the entrance of this large, tall, stone building that’s shaped like a pyramid near the gate. And get this, there are two roaring lionesses behind her! This woman is the captain!)
When I explain my reason for visiting and the nice lady at the reception allows me to put my bag down, I command Simon to point out all the galleries and leave me be. He’s gracious; he points them out, sticks with me through the first gallery and then leaves me to my own devices.
Here are pictures of the first space…
Then of the second….
And the third…
And I lost count by this point because these are the grounds…
By this point I want to denounce Nairobi and live here with jumbo over here. Loyalty is overated no?
I’d completely lost track of time when it hit me that I had to leave.
“But I’m thirsty…and I’ve got questions.” Myself says to myself. “Let’s find a drink first. Then let’s find the owner.”
I ask for directions to the restaurant and am pointed in the direction of the place I’d just been to. I’d missed it. I walk back and walk into a restaurant that makes me feel like I’m in 1940 something old coast.
“They allow people to eat in here!??But it’s so pretty! HOW!”
There are horses carved on the wall, made out of wood, and the ambiance is nothing short of heaven. The rustic vintage furniture caught me, that and the fact that everything is white.
I have my latte then go off in search of the owner of this marvelous joint.
But “Mzee hayuko”, they all say.
I’d later come to find out that this ‘mzee’s name is Armando Tanzini. So, obviously I ask, “atarudi lini?” They don’t look sure of when.
Well then, therein lies my next excuse to visit Malindi again!
So here’s a link that will tell you all about the White Elephant Art Lodge . The White Elephant Art Lodge C’mon, click on the link to their website to learn more.
Remember when I spoke about untold stories? This is like a Seven part-Game of Thrones-sequel.
Also, P.s. somebody please call up Bata up and tell them I’m ready for that endorsement deal yah?
Have a lovely week!
*ALL COPYRIGHTS AND RELATED RIGHTS IN THE WORKS IN THESE IMAGES BELONGS TO ARMANDO TANZINI .