"Umepotea!" is the first thing I am greeted with when I say stop in to say hello to the locals back in Mutomo. In Kiswahili it translates to "you've been lost", which is a common Kenyan greeting when reuniting with someone you've not seen in a while. I usually respond with "but I've been found!", because my less-than-perfect sense of direction is common knowledge around these parts, and it's safe to assume I've just been lost because usually it's true.
Despite the fact that I knew where I was the entire time (and therefore not lost. Just wanted to clarify that.), I've finally returned safely to Mutomo. Now begins the task of making amends with my favorite fruit mamas and shop owners, all of whom will want details on where I have been and what I've been doing. It's nice to be missed.
Having been away from my site and spending time at a fellow volunteer's home for our extended vaca following post-election unrest resulted in getting to know the locals and the neighborhood as if it were our own. Granted, 5 new and freshly tanned foreigners would cause quite a stir in any village, including the one we were inhabiting. But before long we all had our favorite mamas selling fresh coconut who we'd count on for the local gossip; we quickly learned shortcuts to and from the beach, causing a small stampede of children running from their homes in droves to greet us; even the local juice bar employees started to treat us as regulars and had our favorite drinks committed to memory. Amid the uncertainty and underlying tension gripping the nation, (even we were not immune- do you have any idea how difficult it is to ration sunblock out each day?!),we managed to make the best of being stranded at the beach and embracing our new community. I certainly didn't feel lost.
As schools reopen and things start to get back to normal for me, the future of my Peace Corps friends and colleagues remains unclear. Depending on the location of their site placement, they may or may not get permission to return due to safety and security concerns. So we patiently wait.
In the meantime, I've uploaded some new photos. Enjoy.