Following the First Lady
MERIDA, Mexico -- She goes largely unseen on these visits, but don't feel sorry for Laura Bush. She's having more fun than her husband.
The president is famous for not bothering to see the sites in the many places he visits and in fact on this trip is doing more to visit local landmarks than usual. But beyond the events that require her presence, the first lady maintains a separate schedule at each stop to highlight her own pet programs and absorb the flavor of the countries they see.
On this trip, she participated in a roundtable at a literacy program in Sao Paulo, Brazil, went on a walking tour of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, visited a book donation in Bogota, Colombia, and toured Camino Seguro in Guatemala. Per protocol, she had lunch with the wives of the presidents of Brazil and Colombia and attended a briefing with her Guatemalan counterpart.
Her best schedule may be today in Mexico, where she will join the president to see the Uxmal ruins about 45 miles south of here, including the Magician's Pyramid, the Nunnary Quadrangle and the House of Turtles, part of a Mayan complex that goes back as far as 2,500 years. She is also embarking on her own to attend a cultural presentation at the Yucatan Children's Cultural Center and is visiting the Haciendas Foundation of the Mayan World, a four-year-old project to help women in rural villages turn their embroidering and weaving into folk art for sale to tourists.
No wonder she always looks so much happier on these trips than he does.
-- Peter Baker
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