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.
Of Rwanda’s four national parks, Akagera is the only one that offers safari game viewing. With the reintroduction of a pride of lions last year, it is now possible to see four of the big five mammals in Akagera, and an effort to reintroduce black rhinos is under way. The park also boasts some 525 recorded bird species, making it quite a draw…at least on paper.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of our fourth month in Rwanda – an excellent milestone to step back and offer a few reflections on our new temporary home. Unlike our first two Foreign Service postings, Kigali was a bit of a known quantity. We had both visited Rwanda previously and knew to a certain, limited extent what we were getting into. Of course, as anyone who has spent a decent amount of time here will attest, the longer you live in Rwanda the more you realize how little you really know.
Secretary Kerry’s visit to Kigali and all the prep that it entailed is only part of the reason our blog has been silent of late. We also took our first family trip around Rwanda the weekend before the Montreal Protocol. When we returned to Kigali, S simply repacked her bags, first going to Nairobi for two days, and then traveling back to Washington, D.C. for a weeklong conference.
Seven years in the making, an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol was adopted in Kigali in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday. Over 170 nations committed to phase out the use of a powerful heat-trapping chemical, which will cut one degree Fahrenheit from the projected increase in atmospheric temperature. With the whole Embassy working tirelessly to support our negotiating team, this diplomatic achievement feels incredibly gratifying – both because it is a big deal in the fight against climate change and also because it feels good to make a contribution, however small, to bend the arc of history in the right direction.
Time seems to be flying faster for us in Kigali than it did in DC. With both of us working full time and trying to make the most of the couple of hours we have with Munchkin each evening, the summer weeks rushed by in a flash and Rwanda’s rainy season snuck up on us unexpectedly.