Tired from the trip and our encounter with super-bug, we both slept soundly. Breakfast at the hotel turned out to be elegant and ‘teddibly’ British. Uniformed waiters wearing white gloves served us eggs with the usual accompaniments. The big surprise was the coffee. Kenya coffee is a fabulous blend of native beans with a richness and delicacy guaranteed to please the toughest critic.
The coffee service was quite a production. Our waiter walked up to the table with a sparkling silver server in each gloved hand. He poured hot coffee from one, steaming milk from the other. We watched in amazement as he raised both arms higher until he was pouring coffee and milk into a cup from an over-the-head position! We were so impressed by his java gymnastics that we applauded spontaneously. He was as delighted waith us as we were with him. That was probably his first standing ovation.
We had breakfast with our new friend, the waiter, every morning of our stay at the Nairobi Hilton. We exchanged stories about our countries and our cultures. He found some of our ways exceedingly strange. Because we asked for water with each meal, he called it, “American champagne.” That visit provided all of us, Americans and Kenyan, with a wonderful learning experience.
Kenyan food was quite different from anything we’d ever tasted. The diet, which relies heavily on rice, maize, beans and tropical fruit, includes bananas and mangos, and exotic spices like curry, cardamom, cumin and turmeric. The national dish of Kenya is Ugali*, a cornmeal mush or porridge. It is slightly reminiscent of grits, our southern American favorite and standby.
“We had a definite work plan,” Laura said. “John contacted miners and dealers and we visited their offices. We looked at tanzanite hoping to find rough that would fit John’s high standards. In the trade, this is known as ‘high grading a lot’ – selecting gem rough that would yield the best quality gems and leave the rest for the less critical.