Sorry for the delay in posting…I spent the last 3 out of 4 weeks in training: language, in-service, and all volunteer conference. Needless to say, I’ve been away from site a lot this past month.
-Potluck was a HUGE success, every single tutor participated and they even want to start a new tradition of having a “foodluck,” as they call it, at the end of every term
-I hosted a game night at my house with my counterpart, Francis, and the Kiswahili tutor, Stanley, from my college. Francis and Stanley showed up at my house wearing sport jackets, it was so cute! I cooked fried rice for dinner and taught them to play spoons and bullshit. They caught on quickly and only had trouble when it came to the lying part in BS
-Turns out that weird hive-like irritation I had was a parasite called Stronglyoides. I most likely got it when I went to the Nile for kayaking. The parasite passes through damp soil into your feet then travels around your blood. Whenever my skin would get irritated (scratched, scraped, bumped, cut, etc.) the area surrounding the irritation would turn into these weird hives. No worries, after a blood test and 3 days’ worth of pills I am parasite free!
After my in-service training, a language and technical training that groups go through once they hit their 6 months in country marker, my group decided to go to Jinja to raft the Nile. For those of you who don’t know, the rapids on the Nile are mainly grade 5s and 4s with a 5.5 thrown in there somewhere. I want to remind you that I have NEVER GONE RAFTING BEFORE. I had no idea what to expect, and to tell you the truth was slightly hungover from the night before. Regardless, rafting on the Nile was probably the most memorable thing I have done since being in Uganda to date. It was freakin awesome and not to mention the single most terrifying thing I have ever done in my entire life.
There were about 20 of us that went and we divided into groups of 6-8, each raft having their own Ugandan guide. My raft was the “baby raft” and had a total of 6 people in it. None of us had been rafting before. We started out in a little eddie learning how to maneuver the raft, which way to paddle, what to do when you come to a rapid, and what happens when you flip over. Not what happens if you flip over, but what happens WHEN you flip over. The idea of an inevitable flip scared the crap out of me! Even during the practice flip in calm water I managed to get trapped under our raft and swallowed about half my body weight of Nile water. No fun. I was determined to not flip over for real and we kept emphasizing to our guide that we did not want to flip (we went through a company called Equator Rafting and they are notoriously known for purposefully flipping the rafts).
After a few more practice laps around the eddie, it was time to go. My raft was first up and the rapid we went down was supposed to be a 4. Our guide directed us not down the smooth part of the rapid that everyone else went down, but smack over a waterfall. Our raft became trapped and before we realized what was going on we were all being pummeled with water. I was desperately trying to hold on the rope but I kept getting smacked in the face with water, I couldn’t see anything or anyone around me. Within seconds I was thrown from the raft and caught in a current. My life jacket was not pulling me to the surface and I was thrashing about wildly. I finally came to the surface gasping for air and made my way to a kayaker (the safety guys that kayak in front and around the rapids to pick up stragglers and bring them back to their rafts). I was panting and holding on for dear life to the tiny kayak as he pulled me back to my raft. Every person in my raft was thrown…in the FIRST RAPID! None of the other rafts tipped, as they all went over the smooth part of the rapid.
When we were all brought back to our baby raft, the one we were determined to not flip over, we just sat in a sort of shocked silence for a few minutes. I didn’t want to go any further, I was ready to quite. Especially when our guide told us the next rapid coming up was the worst one of the course. (The waterfall we went over was the second worse, what a way to start out a bunch of beginners!) I was dead set on walking the rest of the course and just giving up. This obviously wasn’t an option. I had to suck it up and continue through the rest of the day. Like I said, I had never been more scared of anything before in my life. It was definitely a way to sober up quickly, though. There’s nothing like holding on for dear life while trying to paddle through a grade 5 rapid to kick your hangover!
The more rapids we went through the more comfortable I became. I got myself into this system, paddle as hard as I could, duck into the raft, hold on for dear life, pray that we don’t flip, repeat. I’m proud to say that our raft did not tip after that first rapid. Some of them were close and one we even went down backwards and I was sure we were all going to fly out, but we made it. We all survived an entire day of rafting on the Nile. Talk about a team building exercise! I definitely recommend the experience to anyone visiting Africa. It’s the experience of a lifetime and how many people can say they’ve rafted on the Nile? I’m glad that I stuck it out, but I don’t think I would do it again to be honest.
Hope everyone is doing well! I’m going on being in country for 7 months…time is flying by! Happy Birthday Uncle Rich, Lashelle, Matt, and Ish. Miss you guys! I miss you guys so much and think about you every day. Looking forward to your updates,