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Once the sun sets, this shop runs on a paraffin lamp. It stays open for a couple hours after dark, and then closes up. Few people roam the streets, anyway. Everyone has gone to sleep, and most will wake up when the sun rises the following morning.

The village in which this shop is located has no electricity, no water, no paved roads, no large shops, and often no cell phone network. Yet it is only about 20 kilometers from Mombasa Road, one of Kenya’s most trafficked routes. It is home to my friend Nemo, a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I went to visit Nemo for a few days and took this opportunity to unplug. I turned off my computer and my cell phone. I took over a few of his classes and did some engineering and design-related activities with his students. I played football (soccer) with the school during the afternoon sports session. We cooked dinner every night using our paraffin lamp for light. We wandered the streets a bit and gazed at the stars. We sat in front of his door and watched for scorpions who dared to enter his house.

It felt good to get away. I turned on my phone today and received several calls from co-workers in Nairobi wondering where I had disappeared to, despite having previously explained to them my plans for a week-long vacation to the coast. I like being connected again, to my friends both here and abroad. Yet something always draws me to unplug, and to shed the burden of technology that keeps me on a leash.

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