Friday, June 24, 2011

Michelle Obama's Visit: Friday

The First Lady of the United States of America arrived in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday morning. I didn't see her until Friday afternoon.

One of my other tasks during this visit: Local point of contact for the First Lady's meeting with the President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama Ian Khama, or, as Nanny exclaimed when I showed her the pics I'd taken: "Ian!"

I stood outside looking quite official waiting for the First Lady's motorcade to arrive at the President's Office. I was given a little lapel pin by the Secret Service to wear as I stood outside so that I wouldn't be identified as a threat. Sincere thanks, guys!

People lined the streets down the road, and I was told that she was on her way. It was bright and sunny but windy out. A helicopter went by overhead, signaling she was near. A few motorcycle cops went by. Then the motorcade came around the corner, a line of black, shiny SUVs. I looked at the windows of the cars as they passed me and all of a sudden I was looking in the face of the First Lady, who was looking back with a closed-mouth smile. For some reason I averted my eyes and looked down. I don't know why; I guess I wanted to seem professional and not stare, or I felt like it was rude to look at her. Then I thought, "wait a minute, why are you looking away?!" I looked back up to catch her looking at and waving to the Government of Botswana Protocol Officer beside me.

In her motorcade were some vans of press personnel that I was responsible for wrangling. They all came running out in a windblown herd to catch up to the First Lady whose car was right in front of the office building.

I moved toward the building to intersect with them; I could see her getting out of the vehicle on the side away from me. Correction: I could see her legs and head. She was wearing bright red pants and red shoes from what I could make out.

I escorted the press to their holding room, which involved more running and breathless traipsing up flights of stairs. The photographer from the Associated Press asked "How many more flights?" When I answered, he joked, "A day wouldn't be complete without flights of stairs!" Once all the reporters were safely inside the Cabinet Room, I stood outside and waited. My White House point of contact then came out and invited me in!

I stood behind the group and waited some more. The First Lady was meeting with the President inside his office.

The meeting and short press appearance was scheduled to last 30 min. total. At about 35 min. they were still in the President's office. The mood had gone from all reporters with cameras at the ready, occasionally testing with a click and a FLASH; to cameras sagging and BlackBerries out. I chatted with the reporter from Reuters. Then one of the Protocol officers indicated that they were coming out. Everyone perked up.

I snapped some pics, but my camera focused on the reporters' heads in front of me instead of the main event. Ah, well. Because they had run over time, they didn't take any questions from the press. Instead they came out, shook hands, and retreated back into the office for her departure. Literally 15 seconds.




Here's a professional photo by the stair-conscious AP photog, Charles Dharapak:


Bfiles said...

wow! this is so exciting! you had a lot on your shoulders- sounds like it went off great.

Nomads By Nature said...

You are on the weekly round up! You can find the post at If you have any objections or concerns please let me know! Have a great 4th of July weekend!