Since I know more than one person is interested in this and I don’t want to write a different email to everyone, I’ll try to keep a running dialog of impressions going here. Expect mostly stream of consciousness. I’ll attempt to refrain from too much self-editing. Friday morning started out with three or four inches of snow and, in addition to last minute scrambling to get ready to go, I had to shovel the walk and driveway. The kids helped, but it still had to be done. The storm that brought the snow also meant that the flights my traveling companions and I were to take into New York City’s JFK airport were canceled. I was already on the train to Philadelphia when I found out. They were routed to a different flight from Chicago. I hate doing new things by myself (taking a seven-hour flight across the Atlantic counts as a “new thing” for me) but I survived. Sleep came sporadically, but on the second leg of the trip from Brussels to Kigali, Rwanda, I threw my coat over my head, blocked out all the light and slept most of the way over the Sahara (but was awake long enough to get some bad pictures of snow covered mountains and the Mediterranean and a bit of the desert. . It was enough sleep that I feel pretty rested this morning. We arrived in Rwanda at night, so I couldn’t see much on the ride from the airport to the hotel, but overall it felt a lot like Haïti when I was there 21 years ago. Hills, lots of low-slung buildings, lots of people, and obvious poverty. Still, there is a lot of new economic development. Bush opened a new U.S. Embassy here last week and that building is not the only new one built up. That, and compared with what I remember of Haïti, there is a lot more electricity and, with it, lit-up billboards. After dinner, I watched a few Bollywood music videos (gotta love a country that, with just a few television channels, manages to show Bollywood videos) and crashed. Today, we walked around a bit and ended up at the Mille Collines, (from Hotel Rwanda fame) and had a Coke. The weather here is awesome, a dramatic change from the snow I left in Pennsylvania.
After reading this list of Top 10 Things Not to Say to New Mothers, I’ve come to the conclusion that either I’m a terrible father, most new mothers are a lot more sensitive than my wife, or my wife is extremely tolerant. Probably a bit of each. Actually, most of the list doesn’t resonate with me. Still, when Violet was born, I did get some flack from a woman completely unknown to me for writing “Apparently most women aren’t able to recover as quickly as my amazing Vietnamese cupcake” … I did what any sane person would do: deleted the email. If someone is gonna chew me out for the ridiculous amounts of pride, I’m sure responding to their email won’t be effective. So there’s that. And I love “barefoot and pregnant” jokes. I guess I’m just sick.