Friday, February 4, 2011

January: Big waves and free falling

So I spent the month of January mostly with my Peace Corps Class in Seeta, which is near Kampala, at In-Service Training (IST). During IST all 45 of the PCV’s in my class worked on project ideas and management/reporting, language refreshers and life skills trainings. Even though some of the sessions seemed to last longer then they should there were a lot of great things to come out of IST: I improved my Luganda skills, the PCV’s who had there Supervisors there had plenty of time to work on a project idea together and get on the same page and we all learned effective ways to do life skills activities with youth in our community. Despite the work we did over the 10 days at IST it was just really magnificent to spend time with everyone that I hadn’t seen since Swearing-In in October! There were many late nights and dance parties that were had over that period of time, which was a great way to recharge the battery after three months at site.

After IST almost all of us (I think there were 38 of us) went to Nile River Explorers (NRE) to go on the Sunset Booze Cruise and rafting the next day. The Cruise was amazing – we traveled down Lake Victoria to the Source of the Nile and back. The cruise lasted about two hours and was filled with delicious food and an open bar. I didn’t know this, but on Lake Victoria near the Source of the Nile there is a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi because some of his ashes were sprinkled in the Source of the Nile. That area, right before the Nile starts, is breathtakingly beautiful and to see it around sunset with some of the most amazing people I have ever been able to call my friends was a sublime experience.

After a night full of laughs and perhaps one would say to much partying we embarked on our day full of rafting the Nile. NRE is the rafting company that I participated in the Rhino Raft Race with and also the company I would highly recommend for any of you who would think of rafting the Nile at some point. The day started early with a delicious rolex to curb any reminance of an ominous hangover (note: a rolex is probably my favorite street food here in Uganda and I find the most delicious Rolexes are made in Jinja. My favorite to have is the one made with a chapatti with fried egg, tomatoes, chips (fried potato pieces), cabbage, onion, salt and a slice of avocado rolled up.). After making it down to the river near the old damn and putting in our guide Jane took us through some safety/rafting lessons and then it was time to set off down river. Throughout the day we went through Class IV and Class V rapids of aerated water. During the day on Nile we road every gnarly wave possible. Between rapids we were able to jump off the raft and swim around in the Nile while floating down river. It was one of the most relaxing feelings just floating down the Nile with the hot equatorial sun beating down on your body.

I was hoping for a perfect record during the day of keeping the raft up, but alas we flipped! Myself and another member of the raft got stuck under the raft, but managed to get out quickly and get back on the raft once Jane flipped it back upright. We then proceeded to scoop up the rest of our crew and push on down river.

After a day full of sun, paddling and most likely dehydration we all settled back into camp for a night full food and drinks. Most of us were returning to site the next day so it was a nice night to continuing catching up and of course making plans for the next adventure.

My new adventure came very quickly after rafting – the next day myself and three other PCV’s went bungee jumping. ADRIFT rafting company also has a bungee jumping platform that when you jump you can touch the Nile below. Matt, Alexi, Chelsea and myself all took the 140 ft. plunge together. Matt and Alexi jumped out in a perfect swan dive form without much show of being nervous. They said after the fact that they were nervous as hell before the jump, but like true adventurers they did not show it to anyone watching. Sadly, I wasn’t on the platform for Chelsea’s jump, but she looked great from below! Now for my jump (hahaha): I was totally cool, calm and collected watching Matt and Alexi jump before me, getting my feet strapped into the slip knot before jumping and shuffling up to the yellow line where people jump from. However, things took a slight detour from cool “I can do this Becca” because I did what you should never do before bungee jumping: look down! I started to sweat, get a dry mouth and somewhat panic. I looked over at the crew who were all there on the platform to support me and started to ask some poorly worded questions in affirmation of my ability to jump. After about three minutes of wrestling with myself on whether to jump or not I brought my hands down into a diving position and jumped straight out into what my friends said was a great swan dive. The feeling of falling that I feared so much was actually probably one of the most freeing feelings I have ever felt. It felt as though I was flying down to the Nile. Once it was over I wanted to climb back up and go again! I am sure that this bungee adventure will not be my last in my lifetime.

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