Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Luna is our newest addition to our family. She is a chorki, part Chihuahua and part Yorkie, weighs less than five pounds and is staying with Heidi until I return to Michigan over Christmas. This "joint custody" arrangement may be a serious mistake because as I listen to Heidi tell Luna stories, I am realizing she is becoming very attached. My grandaughter, Kenz and I saw Luna at a pet store at the mall and we went home thinking of buying her. We thought about it all night and the next morning, the whole family trucked to the mall, with Heidi accompanying us in her wheelchair. We fell in love and bought her and the rest is history. Richard will meet Luna this weekend when he takes Luna and Guinness, Heidi and Chris' dog up to the cottage to join Paco and Chica. Four dogs, two of which will meet Luna for the first time. Hoping Richard falls in love with her also.
Got home and the air conditioner upstairs wouldn't work and the hurricane shutters were still on so I couldn't open the windows. Slept in Alex's bed the first night and asked the neighbor young men to help get the shutters off. They did that...and the air conditioner began working. But, I hear we will have 60ish type weather at night this weekend so will be able to open my windows, after all. The BEST is that there is sunlight upstairs now. Love it.


I have been extraordinarily delinquent with my blog and I apologize. Friends and family are asking if I am "OK" because I am not writing. So, here I am. As I left Michigan, I dropped down to visit all of my sisters. Here are two of the ladies with Lynn sitting to the right of me, and Cyn next to her. My sister, Sheryl, I saw in Georgia and didn't get a shot of her. What is scary is that we three look like our mother. NOT pretty.
The trip from Michigan to Florida took me the greater part of four days but I had time to see Cyn's home, see family, enjoy getting to know my niece and nephew in Atlanta a bit better and it was a rather enjoyable and relaxing drive. I am missing my doggies a lot and oft times, even missing Richard.

Worrying about Heidi but she and her husband are shortly off to the Mayo Clinic again and I am catching up on all of my medical appointments that I have put off for the past six months. Being checked from stem to stern and every orifice in between! Had enough shots for two people and am about ready to head off to Yemen in a month.

For doggy company, I am going next door. Our neighbor's son is back from Afghanistan and they are spending some quality family time at the beach so I am able to give dog snuggles next door.
I had a chance to go to Cumberland Falls with my sister, Lynn and her husband, Ned and the falls are gorgeous. We were able to see several rainbows and it was a very nice day indeed.
Here is a closer photo...if this blog looks weird, it is because I am using Picasa so that my photos upload. Seems with my new camera, which replaced the stolen one in Rwanda, the photos are ginormous, so Picasa makes them smaller somehow and has a blogger feature so I can direct connect. IF this is ugly...will go back to the old way.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Camping in Akagera

Here is the back of Sue's head and I am looking like I am scowling at something or other. We couldn't have asked for a more glorious day for the boat cruise.
The boat trip was a bit of a splurge, but only about $18 per person and the boat was brand new, in excellent condition and while we had hoped to see some crocodile, we did not but it was a wonderful bird watching experience. And, of course, Ginny had a birds of East Africa book so we could identify them all!

I was a bit enamored of the baboons and have many photos. Really liked the "family" scenes. Here baby is suckling, while the male grooms the mother. Seems like a civil activity and rather supportive, don't you think?

Ginny, was our resident camping expert. She has the short dark hair and is wearing her headlight. And, along with Maggie, in the red fleece, handled the cooking for us. We had a few issues because the fuel for the Coleman stove and for the other stove were not the way, folks here call kerosene, paraffin. Whatever was bought...was not pure and caused all manner of problems. We had a mini-explosion and we all had to laugh our butts off.

When we arrived at our campsite, between 25-30 baboons were in residence, sitting in the covered picnic hut which had a table. Not only had they been sitting, they had peed and pooped all over. There was a parked vehicle in the area and apparently, they had left out their dishes and utensils to dry and the baboons had scattered everything around and broken the glass dishes. Who takes glass on a camping trip?

We shouted, clapped our hands and they ran off...except for the dominant male who was around almost all weekend, watching us, waiting and making forays into our area. Because it was dry season in the mountains, we didn't see as many animals as my last visit.
More coming....

Camping in Akagera

Six women left Kigali this past Saturday for a camping adventure. Think six strong, opinionated women in two vehicles with three women who really hadn't camped much at all. We are from left to right: Sue, CDC; Maggie, USAID; Ginny, CDC; me; Eddie the PAO at the US Embassy and Jessie who really works for DOD but is on a fellowship here with the Embassy.
Ginny needs to meet Richard...they are kindred souls. There were only two things we thought of that she couldn't pull out....a potholder and a step stool. Otherwise, if we needed it, she had it. We were three women from Centers for Disease Control, one from USAID, another who is a political affairs officer at the US Embassy and me. We decided if there were any issue with anything health related, we were covered.

Packing was organized in that Ginny sent us a list of what to pack and we did as directed. Consequently, there were a lot of duplicates but we didn't go without anything. Akagera is a 2500 km game area and covers a couple of huge mountains, a few lakes and quite a bit of open land. Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa but when in this game area, one has the sense that there is no human around for miles around.
There were many great of my favorites was when one of the women was dressing in her tent, open to anyone walking by. It so happened that there was a park ranger, gun in hand, walking by and he glanced towards the tent, saw her undressed and he grimaced, glanced away, very squeamishly and went the other direction. He told me, "I am sorry." He was terribly embarrased to have seen what he saw. This is a conservative country.
We had three tents, two women per tent. Eddie had purchased a new two man tent, wonderful sleeping bags which could be zipped together or apart and an inflatable mattress. Nothing had been used prior and of course, we hadn't read any directions so we didn't understand that the pump for the mattress had to be charged for 24 hours prior to the first use. Fortunately, Maggie was able to inflate our mattress for us. Tent putting up was a hoot. We laughed our butts off and I must have wished for Richard a thousand times. We did get it up...just a bit more slowly than one would wish.
Photos coming...issues right now. More stories later.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More observations...

Not having a camera is making me cranky. The other day, we passed a young man carrying a huge number of eggs which I wanted to photograph and it was before Eddie lent me hers. I asked my driver how he sells those and my driver looked at me and said, "one by one." I thought he was going house to house selling raw eggs, or selling a half dozen at a time to women on the street. Nope, these are boiled and people buy them on the street, one or two at a time, and eat them for breakfast, lunch or snacks.

One of the guys in the office was sneezing the other day and I noticed that I was the only one saying , "Bless you." I asked if they had a tradition of saying something and in Kinyarwanda, they say: Urakire (oo-ra-chir-ay) which means, "Get rich." And they respond, "Twese," (tway-say) which means, "all of us." I like that. Eddie reminded me that in German, Geshundheit, means "good health."

My friend Michelle sent me a note to google "puff adder," a deadly snake found in Africa. She sends me the nicest notes. So, I checked it out...yes, we have these here in Rwanda and there could be some in Akagera, where we are going tent camping this weekend. Didn't need that picture swimming around in the back of my mind! Going any way. Eddie has new sleeping bags, a new tent and a new blow up mattress...never been used and we are going to try to test them out after work today, pack, do laundry and grocery shop. Oh, on the Akagera newsletter, they mention that they have had a ton of animal poaching going on and they have also found some horrendous amount of marijuana being grown there illegally.

It occured to me this morning that I can effectively swear in about 10 languages. Not quite sure what I can do with this knowledge...most of the places I go, the women don't swear. And really, when does one need to swear in Kinyarwanda, Urdu or Amharic??

Yesterday, at the gym, Eddie lost her purse. We had quite a frenzy and the hotel staff opened the lockers, checked everywhere and NO purse. We knew she brought it into the locker room because she locked the car, and put the key away. She got to the point where we were going to have to call the police, to report the loss because she is an Embassy employee and her passport, badge, house keys and more were in the purse. But we decided to have the staff open every locker (not easy, no master key) once more. This process went on forever and finally, the purse was found locked in a different locker than she had been using. Quite a process but we were pretty sure it wasn't stolen...this is an incredibly honest group of people here. It has been a really bad last 10 days for lost camera and keys, her purse.