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Heather: What. A. Weekend!

February 22, 2010

Thursday for classes we had our Development field trip. We went to the industrial sector of Nairobi. It was actually pretty interesting. We walked around the informal section—where they make kitchen supplies and various other household stuff with raw materials. My professor told me to sit down and hammer away at one of the pans someone was making, it was slightly difficult. We got back to Nazarene at 12:30pm and the program treated us to some lunch…we went to another Ethiopian place.

Anyways, we had to leave so we could go home to grab our stuff for the weekend and then take a bus downtown to catch our bus for Kampala. We finally got out of town around 8pm on Thursday night. Driving through the night wasn’t bad, as we slept for chunks of it. We got to the Uganda border exactly at 4am. Very sketch. There were no lights, no signs, no people telling us where to go. It was an absolute mess. We finally figured it out and had to walk across the border to get our visas and stamps. The rest of the ride went pretty smoothly. Uganda is a really gorgeous country with some Spanish, or so it looks like, influence. We got our fist glance of the Nile River in Jinga. I smelled it before I saw it and it reminded me of home because it smelled exactly like Lake Winnebago. We got to Kampala around 10am and took a taxi to our hostel, Red Chilli Hideaway. It was amazing! We grabbed lunch and split up for the afternoon. We were hanging around and we met a guy from England doing some traveling on his own for 4 months. He actually needed a Leatherman and thanks to dad, I came to the rescue! He hung out with us for the rest of the afternoon. We went to Lake Victoria and got on this boat that took us to an island. We walked around there for awhile and saw some villagers.

On Saturday morning we had a shuttle come to take us back to Jinga, where the rafting company, Adrift, is. However, the day went terribly downhill from there. About halfway there we came upon an accident. It was raining really hard that morning and still was then. A semi sort of truck jack-knifed in the middle of the road and a semi from one side collided head first, and a bus going to Adrift collided head first from the other direction. It was the scariest thing to see because we arrived about 15 minutes after it happened and there were people running around with blood on them, glass in them, huge cuts, you name it. We all stopped and got out and tried to help as many people as we could. Both of the drivers were still stuck in the trucks. One had the engine fall on his lap and metal bars from the seat jammed into his calves. The other one had the dashboard fall on his so he was trapped. Stosh and Simon, our British friend, went over and helped get them out. It took about 3 hours to get both of them out safely. Luckily everyone made it out. It was a mess. The Ugandan police and firemen had no authority and in all reality, really had no idea what they were doing.

I guess the van started sliding on the road because of the rain when it saw the the truck was jack-knifed and then all of a sudden the gears locked up and the brakes didn’t work so they saw the whole thing coming. A few people had to be taken to the ER, but they’re all ok now. It was really unfortunate for them, obviously, but also because it was only their second or third day on their trip. It was also frustrating because the Ugandan locals swarmed the scene and tried to steal things that were being taken out of the bus and trucks. As sad as it is to say, they saw it as a blessing because they could get all this stuff. They were also taking pictures of the drivers trapped! Who does that?!!

We finally got on the road again and headed the rest of the way to Jinga. Unfortunately we did not get to go rafting that day because the Adrift crew was helping out with the accident. They also said that they might not take us out on Sunday either. So the 9 of us decided to go into town, change our bus tickets to Monday, and book with another company. We rode boda bodas into town (extremely fun by the way). Boda bodas are little motorcycle/dirt bike things that cart people around where they want to go. We got back to Adrift and they informed us that they actually would take us out on Sunday, and cut the price from $125 to $90 for the whole day. So we stayed with them. They even gave us these really nice tent/house things to stay in instead of the dorms. Overall Saturday was a very long and frustrating day, but in the end it all worked out well!

Sunday morning we woke up and hung around the lodge for awhile until it was time to bungee jump. There were 4 of us doing it. I wasn’t feeling too nervous until I was actually standing on the ledge and the guy told me to let go. He counted down and we were told to jump out as far as possible. So I just went and it. was. awesome! I told the guy I wanted to touch the water when I got down, but was unaware that this meant completely plunging head first into the Nile River. I almost went completely in the water! It was one of the most exciting things I’ve done and would do it again anytime!

After all the jumping was done, we waited to start our rafting journey. We had us 8, plus Simon in our raft along with a guide. Simon and I chose to be the front paddlers. We got on the river and did some training on what to do when things happen. How to flip, how not to flip, how to get back in, what position to be in if you happen to fall out in the rapids, etc. Josh, our guide, then told us to jump out and swim down the first set of rapids. They weren’t bad, but enough to get some pretty good speed swimming down. I got out of the current accidently and fell way behind and had to swim a ton to catch up. Quite embarassing.

The first set of actual rapids I must not have had my balance when a wave hit, so Kiersten and I fell out of the raft. Luckily I held onto the raft and was able to get back up and continue to help paddle through. We had a couple class 5 rapids which were super super awesome! Our group chose to do the “wild” trip instead of the “mild” one so we got to do some more intense rapids. We were supposed to go down a 12 foot falls, but the current took us the wrong way and we couldn’t paddle hard enough to go over it. But the next rapids right after that was amazing! We went down and got blasted by the waves, and as we got hit on the bottom, a wave came from the left and pushed the left side of the raft up so we were almost vertical. The continued to flip over in slow motion. I looked over and saw Simon right below me and just waited for the next wave to push us under. That was intense! Luckily everyone hung on and we got through the rapids without any problems. I definitely swallowed some Nile water on that one. We were given lunch and when we were done we got nyama choma and chapati and complimentary beers and sodas. We hung out at the end for awhile and then said bye to Simon because he was leaving to go back to Kampala.

Rafting was awesome and would definitely go again sometime! The only thing I wasn’t expecting was the amount of time between some rapids. We went for about 40 minutes sometimes between rapids. In some of these times we jumped out and free-floated and swam down the Nile. Didn’t expect to be able to do that. And we only saw one crocidile the whole time!

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