Tucked away in the tranquil suburbs of the Karen countryside, is the place known as Macushla House. Macushla, I am told, means ‘my beloved’ in Gaelic, the Celtic language of the Gaels or Goidels of Ireland. The language is also spoken in parts of Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Surrounded by indigenous bushland, the 6-room Macushla House is a bed and breakfast boutique hotel with a rustic look that gives you the impression of suddenly being in the Savannah grasslands of Kenya when moments before you were a few kilometres from Nairobi.
The compound around Macushla House is an open art gallery with art pieces and artefacts from as far as Australia and Yemen blending in with the rest of the fixtures. The centrepiece is the blue marble dragon standing by the poolside, spitting a stream of water into the swimming pool – quite an entirely opposite impression from popular legend.
The inside of the house is as breath-taking as the outside – if not better. As you walk around the tastefully decorated bar and lounge and to the rooms and down to the poolside, you feel a sense of being at the heart of history, during the days of the Memsahibs and ‘bwana kubwas’.
There are pictures, hanging on the walls, dating back to colonial times when Kenya was part of British East Africa under British rule. One picture especially stands out. I had seen it before – I believe at the Norfork or Serena Hotel.
It was a framed picture of the famous advert the colonial government ran to entice British Aristocracy back at home to consider British East Africa as their new winter home complete with a railway line cutting across the wilderness.
If you are the outdoors type then the nearby Giraffe Centre, which is a walking distance from Macushla House, can be one option. The other option might be the Karen Blixen Museum.
Kazuri Beads and Pottery Centre, founded by Lady Susan Wood, wife to the late Sir Michael Wood who founded AMREF, is also in the vicinity. Kazuri beads is famous for its custom beaded ornaments.
If you venture further afield, beyond the Karen shopping centre, you could also pay the House of Treasures a visit. The House of Treasures is a project by 2 ladies, a mother and her daughter, who have been travelling around the world, amassing an impressive collection of art pieces and artefacts.
As I left the quiet peacefulness of Macushla behind and headed back to Nairobi, I could not help but feel, in a sense, a certain level of uncertainty one gets as one depart from a familiar comfort zone to one of chaos and unfamiliarity.
My unfamiliar territory, in this case, was the city of Nairobi. Macushla had somehow managed to turn all that I was accustomed to – loud hooting, loud music, people shouting to and at each other – to an unbearable inevitability.
No hard feelings Nairobians but Macushla House does that to you – you momentarily fear exchanging that peace for the noisy hustle and bustle of the city you are used to!