Sunday, August 25, 2013

The animals are WILD. They might EAT YOU.

Today was the first day of meetings here at the UNWTO General Assembly.  The first event of the day was a lunch hosted by the Zambian Minister of Tourism and the Arts.  Naturally, this meant the lunch was held in Zambia, at the Zambezi Sun Hotel just over the border.  When we arrived we were greeted by a traffic jam caused by about two dozen zebras which had wandered into the parking lot of the hotel and weren’t particularly interested in moving.  Animals always have the right of way here no matter how inconvenient they may be, so we just waited until they moved off to the side of the parking lot where there was lunch waiting for them- grass:
 As you can see, they also aren’t particularly phased by humans:
 I wouldn’t go so far as to try to pet the zebras, but I figured standing a couple feet away and snapping a picture wasn’t a big deal.  However, at the lunch the very first thing the introductory speaker told the group was, “Please, do NOT get out of your vehicles to take pictures of animals.  They are wild.  They will chase you and may hurt you or try to eat you. It is better to remain in your vehicle and take the picture through the window.  It would be very bad if anything happened to someone here at this conference, so please stay away from the animals.”
Just for the record, this announcement was not a result of my zebra paparazzi tendencies.  Rumor has it some snappy happy delegates from a country that LOVES to take pictures of EVERYTHING (yeah, that country that just popped into your mind, you are correct) had a close encounter with an elephant yesterday.  So, to cover their bases they decided to give all of us a talking to.

As for the Minister’s lunch, it was great.  I met the Ministers of Tourism from Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Colombia, as well as the Ambassador to the UN from South Africa and a number of other supporting staff members from these countries. 
After lunch the Commission for Africa had it’s meeting which I attended.  Most of it was rather general, relating to committee membership and priorities the countries want to focus on over the next few days.

Following that meeting I had the brilliant idea to walk back to my hotel.  Not my best decision ever. Keep in mind, I was in Zambia for the lunch and meeting.  I am staying in Zimbabwe.  There is a giant bridge in between the two countries.  But the gym at my hotel is closed for renovations, so I thought I would see some sights, take a few pictures and get in my exercise for the day.
As a side note, I normally don’t wear a pedometer.  But, I have one and for some reason I decided to pack it when I moved to Africa.  Since I don’t have a vehicle here I’ve been wearing it daily to record how far school is from home, or the distance to the mall.  Well, I wore it today and when I checked my distance it turns out I walked 9 miles through the African heat.  Fortunately I came prepared with a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.  But what did I forget? Water! Oh well, lesson learned. 

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