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Jinja bells

Rachel - Jinja

I should have been nervous. Many things on this trip make me nervous: walking down steep hills on unstable paths, walking on anything at all slippery, feeling like I’m intruding on anything that seems private but is nonetheless interesting to us as outsiders, speed… But this time I wasn’t nervous at all. On Christmas eve morning we joined the group of other Nile rafters for a briefing breakfast in a backpackers in Jinja, were given our briefing which was supposed to mock-scare us, but still I was calm. Even when, as a group of people I’d just spent the morning getting to know declared themselves as wanting to go in the extreme boat I decided why not, these seemed like fun people to go down the river with (although this was my first confessed moment of concern about what that might involve). And once we\d pushed off I supposed there was nothing I could do about it anyway. We had helmets and fully functioning life jackets, the river is deep and therefore not too rocky. During our briefing in the first 3 kilometers we were tipped into the water and taught how to help each other into the boat and introduced to the safety kayakers who would fish us out if (read “when”) we ended up flipping the raft or falling out. All of which is why when, after we headed over our first grade 5 rapid all I could think was “weeeeeeeeeeeeee” followed by surprise that we’d made it though intact.

Dave was in a tandem kayak and so had a much closer experience of the river, often right in his face. It was great that the kayaks and rafts came down together so we could watch each other. A few of rapids were a bit too bumpy for novice kayakers I think so Dave even picked up a paddle in our raft for a few trips which was cool.

We took a few tumbles (one in amusing slow motion), I swallowed quite a lot of the Nile, I had a few moments of “argh you want us to go through where now?” But its some of the most fun I think I’ve had (sober). Ever. The guides were awesome, the people in the raft were great fun and up for it, and the views we had while floating on and in the Nile and looking back at the rapids we’d just been over were just, wow. Best of all we made some friends who would be sticking around over Christmas and formed our new surrogate family.

That Christmas eve night we watched the video of the days action in the bar overlooking the river and got increasingly drunk as the guides poured shots down us and we worked through the adrenalin of the day. Lots of that night are a bit hazy and I have no idea what time we all got to bed but there was a swim in the next doors hotel pool at one point and people were saying hello to me next door and assuring me we’d had a long chat the night before. Heheh.

My plans to get up early and to go to church was completely forgotten, that’s for sure. But we did make it up for the scraps of the pancake and fry up buffet, played some cards and awaited the hog roast. As is traditional on Christmas day I still had to wrap and assemble presents and things for Christmas day. By the way, Dave got me a necklace with cute wooden animals on it, a sad lion bookmark (he doesn’t want to go in the book), some replacement porcupine spines (dead thoughtful that, I was sad to lose them in the Mushroom Farm), a wooden bottle opener that they have everywhere here but I really like and something else I’m sure but as is traditional I forget now I’m here writing... He got from me a little plaster gorilla painted in splashes of earthy coloured paint which looks like he’s been rained on so reminded me of our trek, a carved wooden coke bottle cos it’s a necessity for him to have coke at least once a day, some authentic African drumsticks (ie some sanded wobbly twigs tied together with string), and some tickets for a regular amateur evening in a side room of the National Theatre called Percussion Discussion which may or not be interesting.

We all sat down to the hog roast and pulled some crackers I’d knocked up out of loo roll, newspaper, and some random things like lighters I could buy in the bar for presents (apart from mine and Daves which were keyrings in the shape of a flip flop with random kitch pictures of Barack Obama and Jesus). We tucked in, started on the wine, talked about nothing and then became increasingly aware that the large group of sri lankans had started getting more and more raucous and had started playing a drum and singing. So we knocked them up some hats, drank some of their whiskey and joined in the dancing. Dave led a round of “I’m dreaming of a white christmas” and “Jingle Bells” on the drums. Again, I have no idea when we went to bed but it was a brilliant White Water Christmas and everything we could have hoped for.

We’ve stuck around for a few days to recover and have been enjoying chatting with the guides, long term kayakers and hangers on like us in the evenings. I’m sulking a bit today because last night we’d decided at the last minute to go rafting again today and use our half price voucher but this morning it was raining hard and had been since 3am so it didn’t look like it was stopping – being in the raft for the stretches of paddling between rapids and at lunch time would be cold and not much fun. But of course it cleared up by 10.30 so we would have been fine. Damned by jumping to British weather prediction conclusions. So we’ve been staring at the river sulkily and pottering all day which has at least given me a chance to catch up with this blog and Dave has started reading the Ethiopia book. A record for us; starting the research three days in advance of arriving somewhere.

Oh one more thing… there was an earthquake last night! About 1.15am I woke up for some reason and just after that there was a rumbling just like you hear in films, the earth rocked pretty gently but quite decidedly for a few seconds, the rumble went on a few seconds more and then it was over. Apparently it’s pretty normal, rift valley and volcanoes and what not, but still, my first earthquake :) Dave slept through it.

Posted by rachndave 12:47 Tagged rivers christmas

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