Willy Wonka’s Glass Factory

Over the river (with wild crocs) and through the woods dust cloud on a bumpy road in the middle of nowhere, to the Kitengela Glass Factory we go!

A friend recommended that I go to the Kitengela Glass Factory, where artisans create masterpieces out of recycled glass. So we set out. It turned out that the factory was on the other side of the Nairobi National Park and then some.

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The ride, however, was worth it—we got a than a fabulous view of the Ngong Hills on the way there. And the factory turned out to be “a glass version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory,” in the words of one of my traveling companions. Kitengela glass works can be found all over in Nairobi, but going to the factory itself is the real treat. We watched the glassblowers at their finest, nimbly transforming a glob of molten glass into a bowl with gentle crystal waves.

The factory’s prices were also more flexible. We could bargain for our wares, whereas the shops in the city had fixed prices.

There were around three or four different areas displaying an array of glass work. Chunky vases, lovely decanters, whimsical elephant mugs, and other various products lined the walls of one shop, while another hut featured glass beads and pendants.

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A third contained quirky reinterpretations of old bottle caps and other trashed items. There, I saw the most adorable snake on the planet.

I also bought a green wine bottle crushed into a cheese platter. There was also another cheese platter that had once held vodka that even had the brand sticker still attached to the surface. Very funny to think about using this while eating cheese, but utility considerations won out and I didn’t want to watch the sticker gradually become decimated by the cheese knife.

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In between the shops was another wonderland of glass and recycled goods. The roads were paved with glass, glass hung from the trees, figurines made of reused metal, glass and other paraphernalia decorated the paths.

Customers could also sit and relax in numerous groves carved out by furniture reminiscent of Antonio Gaudi.


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