some groups had long distances to drive to reach their starting point where the Rangers had already located that particular family. Some of the starting points were as much as 2 ½ hours from the staging area. Our little group of six had all purchased our tickets early so we were pretty much guaranteed a trek each day. Others who came without a ticket were often not so lucky since if the prepaid tickets took all the spaces available, they would have to try to buy a ticket for another day. Our first family was called the "Anniversary Family" for reasons we never learned, but our drive was only about 45 minutes. As we began driving towards our starting point, we were seeing more and more people on the roads until we passed huge empty fields where thousands of folks were already gathered. There were great white tents standing on both sides of the road and portapotties "bloomed" into the fields. Now our guide explained that we were here on the day of the very important "Naming Ceremony." It is an annual event with picnics and political speeches and general merriment in honor of the gorilla babies who had survived their first year of life (infant mortality is a problem among gorillas even without murder or poaching). During the ceremony, each of the surviving babies is given an official name and placed in the record books. All the people gathered seemed to be in great spirits enjoying the festivities. What a wonderful way to involve the people of Rwanda with the conservation efforts in preserving the gorillas in their country!
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