15 July 2006

Presidential news

by Cecily
The reason I went to Akagera was that my dad had to go to a PEPFAR retreat. PEPFAR is "President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief". There were lots of doctors and epidemiologists and nurses and other people. They had "sessions" all day and while I was invited to attend, I somehow was way too busy doing other things. Like painting my toenails.

I magically did have time to sit around with them in the evenings and drink refreshing beverages. I learned some interesting things during the dinner table conversations as well. Last night the new head of the CDC in Rwanda and the organizational boss of the retreat got into a battle about breastfeeding. I'm not super clear on the argument strategies that came into play, but I know that at one point the CDC guy was backing up his case by citing statistics about how many women have three nipples. Or more!

These PEPFAR guys are a riot, I tell you.

It was very fun.

One thing that I was really looking forward to about this trip was the baboons. Everyone I met who had been to this park before told me "watch out for the baboons!" and then they would tell me a story about a baboon doing something rude and obnoxious. Like stealing your sandwich or breaking into a conference room and eating all the dried condensed milk substance. Everyone said that the place was overrun with baboons! They are such a menace! Make sure you roll up your car windows and close your bedroom door all the way!

I thought the idea of baboons running wild in the hotel was pretty great.

But, too bad for me, Former President Bill Clinton is in Rwanda this weekend. Plus some other famous and important people, like Bill Gates and some CNN reporters and a big-name Harvard AIDS book writer man. The Bills did not arrive before I left, but the other people were there already. I didn't recognize them, or know who they were, but all of the PEPFAR guys were very excited.

I still don't really know who they are.

Anyway, because of all the impending fanciness, the hotel had taken extreme measures against baboons. I think they hired a bunch of local boys to chase the baboons away with sticks. Whatever they did was effective, I didn't see any baboons at all until we drove off of the hotel grounds and into the park this morning.

I saw a lot of baboons in the park, plus more animals:
Water Buffalo

and some others I think. We followed elephant tracks for a while but we did not see any elephants. And we didn't see any zebras, because the zebras live too far away and we had to leave early before the roads would be blocked off because of Bill Clinton.

There's some kind of model prototype hospital clinic thing going on near the park. The Harvard AIDS writer guy was involved in that. Or started it, or is running it, or something. And Bill Clinton came to look at it, and then to stay in the hotel. The same hotel I just stayed at!

So, the whole way back to Kigali I kept having to pull way over to the side and roll up my windows because all these huge police trucks and SUVs with tinted windows and buses and other fancy cars kept speeding past me going the other way. Motorcades like that on windy dirt roads are really annoying; they would get past and it would take practically 500 hours before the dust settled again. Good thing that car has air conditioning or I might have died.

Now I'm back in my parents' house, fooling around and doing nothing in particular. I guess I should compress some more video. I'm hoping my dad will come back from the office soon so we can go out for Indian food. Mmm, mutter paneer!

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