Hotel Rwanda

A few weeks ago, Jody and I watched “Hotel Rwanda.” For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, here’s a description from Netflix:

Amid the holocaust of internecine tribal fighting in Rwanda that sees the savage butchering of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, one ordinary man (Oscar nominee Don Cheadle) musters the courage to save more than 1,000 helpless refugees by sheltering them in the hotel he manages. Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix co-star in this powerful film (sort of an African version of Schindler’s List) directed by Terry George.

Despite the fact that it’s about genocide, it wasn’t excessively gory. I was worried there was going to be a lot of blood and gore (and almost didn’t watch it), but there was not and I’m glad that I saw it. One of the special features on the dvd said in order to appeal to a broader audience, they chose to focus more on the story involving this family’s struggle and the love between Cheadle’s character and his wife, rather than the gore of the gruesome atrocities being committed against the Rwandans.

I was amazed to discover that nearly 1 million people died in 1994 when the majority tribe in Rwanda, the Hutu, attacked and slaughtered anyone of Tutsi, the minority tribe, decent and the Hutus who tried to protect Tutsis (like Paul Rusesabagina – Cheadle’s character – who’s wife and children were Tutsi).

I was appalled to learn that the United States did not intervene. This was just 11 years ago! 11 years! Not 50 years! Why was this allowed to happen? Why did no other country intervene? Hundreds of thousands of children, women and men were murdered with machetes and gunfire, while the rest of the world stood by doing nothing.

It was inspirational to see the way this ordinary man was able to use the hotel and his wits to save over 1,000 people from being murdered, but so sad that the situation got so bad and nobody stepped in to help him or others.

What’s sad is that I don’t even remember any mention of this. I was in my freshman year of college at the time so I was certainly at an age to know what was going on in the world around me. While I doubt I watched the nightly news, I still can’t believe I didn’t hear about it. One million people dead in a holocaust and none of my professors mentioned it?

I found an article on Unicef that discusses the lasting impact the genocide had on the Rwandan children. Thousands were orphaned.

“Ten years later, the children of Rwanda are still suffering the consequences of a conflict caused entirely by adults,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “For them, the genocide is not just a historical event but an inescapable part of daily life today and tomorrow.”

By the end of the genocide in 1994, 95,000 children had been orphaned.

“The children of Rwanda witnessed unspeakable violence,” Bellamy said. “Tens of thousands lost their mothers and fathers. Thousands were victims of horrific brutality and rape. Many were forced to commit atrocities. The impact of the tragedy simply cannot be overstated.”

Bellamy said the anniversary must be marked with renewed concern for those continuing to suffer from the genocide.

“We are all still accountable for supporting reconciliation and healing, and for ensuring that such atrocities never happen again,” Bellamy said. “‘Never again,’ means holding perpetrators accountable, and restoring dignity to the victims by commemorating or alleviating their suffering.”

Even more important, Bellamy said, is to meet this anniversary with a renewed commitment to ensure that the world never again allows such a catastrophe to go unchecked.

If you are interested in learning more about the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, I highly recommend you watch “Hotel Rwanda .”
Or read more here:
How the genocide happened
Preventing another genocide
Living among the dead – A survivor’s story

“Never again.” I certainly hope not.

Our trip to MA/VT (long, with pics)

We arrived home Saturday afternoon from our week-long trip out east to Massachusetts and Vermont. I honestly wasn’t planning on spending any time in Vermont, but once we got out there and discovered how close we were (about a 30 minute drive), how could I resist? We actually ended up doing the majority of our sight-seeing in VT.

Here’s a (long) recap of our week (with pics):

Saturday, Sept. 24
Got up around 3:45 a.m. for our drive to the airport. Miss Ava awoke on her own while Jody and I were getting ready downstairs. We heard a thud and thought she’d fallen off the bed (which is only a few inches off the floor – a mattress and box spring without a frame), but no, she had gotten out of the bed and was coming out to greet us, chipper as could be! :) She stayed awake for the ride to the airport and most of the first flight (to Chicago where we changed planes). She slept more on the second flight, and traveled wonderfully. Once we got into Boston Logan, we picked up our luggage and met my parents (who had driven out from MI) out on the curb. We then had a 2 1/2 hour drive to the resort we were all staying at for the week. We stopped for dinner on the way there (at a dive restaurant – we were all desperately hungry), then proceeded to the resort where we checked in and crashed for the night.

Our resort (Vacation Village in the Berkshires) was quite nice. Our condo had a living room, dining room, full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, fireplace, jacuzzi tub and patio.

Sunday, Sept. 25

Ava and Jody got up early while I slept in. I woke up to Ava crying and obviously in pain. She’d fallen head first into the edge of the coffee table. :( She got quite a goose egg and bruise on her noggin, but other than the initial crying, she seemed unphased (thankfully!).
Jody, Ava and I used my parents’ car to drive around town a bit. We stopped at BuckSteep Manor and saw wild turkeys.
Then we went to PriceChopper for our groceries for the week. While I was standing in the meat section trying to select some chicken, I got caught in the middle of a conflict in store between a crochety old lady and her husband and a store employee. It went something like this:
Employee (talking in my direction): “What was that? I couldn’t hear you. Can you speak a little louder?”
Old lady (shooting dirty looks back at the employee): Flips him off. (Presumably for the second time.)
Old man (to the employee): “You’re a real asshole, you know that?”
Employee: “Eat mine!”
At that point, the employee walked away. A lady standing next to me exchanged “holy shit, what was that?!” looks with me, I grabbed my chicken and walked away to find Jody and Ava. Oh my!

Later that night, Jody, Ava and I walked around the resort, while my mom made spaghetti for all of us for dinner.

Monday, Sept. 26

It was a rainy day. We slept in and lazed around our condo for a while.
Later in the afternoon, Jody, Ava and I drove to Williamstown and went to an old cemetery where many headstones dated back to the early 1800s. (Morbid girl that I am, I took some pics.)
We decided to continue on to Bennington, VT, since we were so close. Gas was cheaper there than in MA, so we filled up the tank.
That evening we went to The Chower House for dinner with Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Drove to VT with Mom and Dad to summit of Mount Equinox. “Mount Equinox reaches a height of 3,816 feet. From the top there are views to New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Quebec.” We had a picnic lunch on the mountainside on our way down. Stopped at The Chocolate House for confections and I picked up some Vermont maple syrup (yummy!) to take home. The electricity went out while we were there.
Went back to the resort. Ava and I napped. Mom made a yummy chicken dinner for us all.

Wednesday, Sept. 28

Drove with Mom and Dad to the top of Mount Greylock (3,491 feet) in MA. Jody, Ava and I hiked about 4 or 5 miles on the Appalachian Trail. We were surprised how rocky and steep a lot of it was. Had I known better, I would’ve packed my hiking boots instead of my tennies. Oops. The trail was smaller (narrower) than I imagined it would be too. It was a nice hike though, but I think I prefer hiking in the Rockies.
Mom and Dad picked us up on the road after they went for a smaller hike.
Went back to the resort and made our dinners separately in our rooms.

Thursday, Sept. 29

Had a lazy day. Stormy weather. Ava and I took a long nap.
Jody, Ava and I went to some gardens and arboretum for a nice walk around. Although the storms had cleared up, it was still really windy.
Went out to dinner with my parents for pizza (which was excellent!).

Friday, Sept. 30

Jody picked up our rental car so that we could drive ourselves back to Boston to catch our flight the next day.
Jody, Ava and I drove back to VT to see five covered bridges – three in Bennington, and two in Arlington. I took several pics of the bridges. We also saw Norman Rockwell’s home and Robert Frost’s home, though we didn’t take tours of either.
Went out to dinner with Mom and Dad to Zucchini’s. Stopped at an ice cream place on the way back to the resort.

Saturday, Oct. 1
Got up at 2 a.m., left for the drive to Boston to the airport at 3:15 a.m. Was about a 2 1/2 hour drive (Ava slept nearly the whole way). Ran into construction and a detour right before the airport exit and had to get off the expressway and go into Boston. Eep. When we got back on the expressway, we were past the airport exit. Stopped at a Walgreen’s for directions back to the airport. We drove by the harbor as the sun was coming up on our way back. Had we not been so frazzled about not knowing where we were going, I would’ve taken some pictures. It was beautiful. Got to the car rental place, returned the car and took shuttle to airport. Long lines at check in and security, but we made it through with some time to spare. Our plane left late and subsequently got into Dallas late. The four hour trip from Boston to Dallas seemed incredibly long. Deplaned (took same plane to Denver), got some lunch. Got into Denver around 1:30/2 p.m. Caught shuttle to our car. Drove home. Napped. Ahhhh. :)

We had a great time. It was nice to spend time with my parents and Ava enjoyed seeing her grandparents and saying “hi” (A LOT) and giving kisses.
Jody and I managed to score some alone time a few nights after Ava went to bed. That was very nice. :)
The three of us enjoyed having a jacuzzi tub in our room. Jody and I would sink down in it and Ava walked around because the water was so deep. /sigh/ I will miss that!

Thanks to the generosity of my parents (loaning us their car, springing for dinner several nights), we were able to enjoy a relatively inexpensive vacation.

We didn’t get to see the foliage I was hoping for – the leaves were just starting to change colors – but it was still very pretty out there. I didn’t realize how brown and dead CO looked until our flight home and I could compare the two states.

Anyway, a good time was had by all. I’m very thankful for a fun-filled first family vacation. :)

Home sweet home

We arrived home yesterday afternoon after a very long day of traveling that started at 2 a.m. (Oy.)
It was a really nice vacation, but we are definitely glad to be home again too. :)
I’ll write more about the trip and post some pics probably tomorrow.
We’re heading out for a drive in the mountains this afternoon. Maybe we’ll see some fall foliage here since we were too early for it in MA! ;oP