I had guessed that the Peace Corps would train us in some major urban center of Kenya for the convenience of it – Nairobi, perhaps, or Mombasa if they didn’t want to scare us too terribly (Nairobi is – and I say this with all due affection – kind of a rough town.) However, it would seem we’re stationed in a place that doesn’t exist. It is the last remaining location in the world without a Wikipedia page or CIA World Factbook entry. Browsing the library online found me an occasional text reference, but not much by way of describing where it is, exactly. GoogleEarth is only useful if you can pick the vague general area. Locating my future self in space and time would require a bit of doing.

I’m currently enrolled in an anthropology/history/natural history/et al course focusing on East Africa. Each morning we have class, my professor’s valiant assistant perches atop the back of a chair to hang a massive floor-to-ceiling map of the region. If you’re a cartophile like myself, you could probably gaze on it for hours, visually tracing the wadis and disputed borders until your eyes crossed and your friends have you locked away for your own safety. But I digress. It was to this divine diagram that I turned to find my future place of employment.

It was, however, not there. At all.

My professor – who once offhandedly named and located on an unfamiliar map each of the Nile’s cataracts in less time than it takes for me to say my social security number – asked if he could be of assistance.

“Yes, please. Do you know where [Town] is?”


“I’m looking for [Town].”

“You mean [MajorUnrelatedUrbanCenter]?”

“No … [Town.]” I found myself thinking, am I pronouncing it so abominably wrong as to render it indecipherable?

Something seemed to click in his brain, though. “Ah! Yes.” He snapped his fingers and gestured vaguely. “Right there.”




“That sounds like a Tana name, so it should be somewhere here in the North.” He bent to inspect the map, his index finger extended. We both stared for a few minutes. It did not materialize. Shocking.
“Hmmmmmm …” he began ruminatively, “Could I have a hint please?”

I lamely suggested that I thought there was an airport there, and that it may be in the South. He looked perplexed, and we both stared at the map for a few more minutes before simultaneously giving up.

Yeah, you read that right. The Obsessive Africa Student and the Respected Africa Professor were both well and truly stumped. Clearly, I was assigned to a secret mission base from the X-Files.

*cue theme music*

Google, however, is a thing of magic and wonder. It yielded a map … posted by a coffee company. Go figure. Accompanying the map link, I began to find photographs. It is indeed a town in the South, name notwithstanding, and from the looks of it, would seem to be THE MOST GORGEOUS PLACE ON EARTH. Idyllic in a wholly unexpected way. A raw gem. East Africa is stunning, and the Kili region especially so, but if even vaguely resembles the snapshots that turned up …

I officially retract any misgivings about leaving soon. I want to leave right now. And I suppose that’s the moral to this rather vague and unimportant post; my trip is like one of those cheap advent calendars where each day you rip off a sticker to expose a bit more of the image behind. It’s simultaneously infuriating and tantalizing. I cannot begin to imagine what’s awaiting me.