This past week I headed back to Rusinga Island for the first time since I left in late June. Henry and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day there and it was a perfect opportunity for me to go back and visit. When I left for my site change, things were heated and I was upset, however many people asked me to come back and visit. When I first moved to Butere I missed living with the Luo tribe, being on the water, the fishing culture, and the beauty and quiet of the place that I lived. Going back, we went to Kolunga Beach where my old host organization’s offices and dispensary are. They have made quite a few changes since I left! They added a laboratory and hired a clinical officer and lab technician. My supervisor looked really good and seemed genuinely happy to see me. My former counterpart and I had a lunch of Omena (small fish) and ugali, a traditional Luo meal. I got to go around the beach and greet the Mama’s that I used to buy my fruit and vegetables from, there were a few kids there that I remembered, and I also went by the nursery school that I did an art exchange program. Everyone remembered me and greeted me in mothertongue.
After catching up with my former colleagues on the beach we headed to Rusinga Island Lodge, an upscale resort on the island. When I lived there, I had been there for a business lunch and a few meetings but other than that I didn’t have any interaction and thought of it as just another of Kenya’s tourist resorts. However, we had a great time. The rooms are beautiful and it was he best shower I’ve had in Kenya! The resort is owned by an ex-pat from Nairobi who works with various women’s groups selling handicrafts made from recycled materials. They were able to work with us to give us a resident rate that was somewhat more reasonable on a Peace Corps budget. We had a relaxing Valentine’s dinner that night.
Henry made me a tumblr with music and pictures and memories from Peace Corps and the last year that we’ve been dating and then got me a pair of cotton pants made from some purple and blue Kenyan fabric. I in turn bought him a massage at the hotel spa. The next day we took the Lodge’s speedboat out for some sight seeing and fishing. We went around what’s known as Bird’s Island and uninhabited island full of all sorts of birds like fish eagles, kingfishers, Egyptian geese, Egrets, and so on. We tried our hand at fishing off the back of the boat but didn’t have any luck so we headed past Takawiri Island, home of the beach where I used to take friends who visited when I lived on Rusinga.
In the afternoon, we got to do something I always wanted to do while I lived there and never got the chance! We once again took the speed boat and unfortunately, the water is rough in the afternoon and I was a little scared about some of the waves we were catching! However, we made it to Mfangano Island where there is some ancient rock art said to be drawn by the Wasamo clan of Kenya’s Abasuba tribe. The art consists of red and white spirals which supposedly represent the sun and moon. It is said that the Wasamo clan sacrificed an animal and then used its blood to make the art and bring rain. We also learned about how they lived in caves and that other clans believed they controlled the rain.
After coming back from Mfangano we had dinner on the dock and it was beautiful.
All in all it was a great relaxing weekend and I’m really got I got to go back to the island. Here’s a little quip from NPCA about dating a Peace Corps volunteer.