Monday, October 4, 2010

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.

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