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neverending quest

Nyungwe Forest is one of four national parks in Rwanda, and easily its most spectacular. In addition to 13 different primate species, Nyungwe hosts a greater number of endemic flora and fauna than any other forested area in the Albertine Rift Mountains, including all 25 of the region’s endemic bird species.

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giving thanks

This was our sixth Thanksgiving since joining the Foreign Service. With the exception of last year, we have spent all of them overseas.

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the best Rwanda has to offer

Four months in, we just might have found our favorite place in Rwanda. Picture gently sloping hills covered with tea plants that unroll like a green carpet towards a mist-covered forest. Now imagine that view as you sip freshly brewed tea with your breakfast, take a dip in a zero-gravity pool, or cozy up to a fireplace while dusk descends outside. All that plus impeccable service, which is a bit of a rarity in Rwanda, is on offer at the Nyungwe Forest Lodge.

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dirty birding

There is one respect in which Kigali compares quite poorly to the other places we’ve served. It should come as no surprise that land would be at a premium in the most densely populated country on the continent, yet we still find the utter dearth of green public spaces in the capital remarkably disappointing.

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funny words

“Post-truth” was named Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year a few days ago. We have a few alternative suggestions, care of our toddler.

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nursery rhyme mashup

For a while as Munchkin progressed through infancy and towards pre-toddlerhood, we were convinced that each stage of his development was about as good as could be imagined. He seemed to get cuter with each developmental leap and at each stage we consciously tried to savor the moment because we found it difficult to envision us being more enraptured with him when he ceased being so tiny and cuddly. His imperiousness once he hit toddlerhood and the whining that accompanied his frustrations at being unable to communicate his desires reinforced the perception that some of the best moments of parenthood were behind us. But now that he has become a regular chatterbox, we are back to thinking that this is as good as it gets – he may no longer be the cute little ball of snuggles he was when he was born, but he is certainly much more fun to interact with.

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a night to remember

Up in the dead of the night — alarm set for 4 am, but too much nervous energy to sleep. 2:45am. Election coverage on one browser, the Penguins game on another. The first results start rolling in. Kentucky. Indiana. Both red, as expected, but also a bit redder than predicted by the polls. Too early to tell anything other than that the final tally will be close.

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composure under fire

One of the more memorable modules from D’s orientation training half a dozen years ago was called “composure under fire.” The exercise consisted of a barrage of difficult questions regarding U.S. foreign policy in a particular country; the goal was to maintain one’s cool while avoiding saying anything that might make front-page news in a less-than-friendly publication.

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foxy fun

To say that Munchkin enjoyed Halloween might be a bit of an understatement. The calendar has turned to November, but he has yet to cease celebrating.

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boating and birding

Underwhelmed though we were by our game drives in Agakera, the trip proved worthwhile from a birding standpoint. We only saw a small fraction of Akagera’s 525 recorded bird species, but we count two dozen new sightings among the birds we did see and photograph.

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