July 29, 2006

The Tale of Two … um, Rivers? (The Nile Resort & The Nile)

by Lonnie Hughes

Background information:

Kathy and I are the “old” married couple of this new Ugandan group. We had joined the Peace Corps 25 years ago, but a pregnancy kept us from traveling to the Philippines. So, four children and a quarter of a century later (serving with volunteers the age of our own kids back home) we have decided to try again…

This year’s PCV conference was held in Jinja at a 4½ star Nile Resort. It was simply magnificent, complete with a pool, a swim-up-to-and-order-drinks bar, as well as beautiful cottages huddled along the rim of the Nile. After our meetings, several of the volunteers elected to go rafting. (Kathy and some of her friends decided to stay and relax by the pool.)

Rafting / Relaxing Day:

6:00 am… I wake up / exercise and shower… Kathy stayed in her bed.

7:00 am… Near the courtyard I join some slightly hung-over volunteers for breakfast and coffee. Kathy is still asleep.

8:00 am… With my gear I head towards our transport. I catch Kathy coming down for coffee, and with a farewell kiss board the bus with some two-dozen slightly less hung-over colleagues.

9:00 am… Kathy eats fruit and finishes her second cup of coffee. The rafting group disembarks at the rafting compound, has morning tea and watches a terrifying rafting highlight video.

10:00 am… Our group has now expanded to some 70 souls (some slightly hung-over). We crawl in the back of some elderly bent-up trucks and with rafts & equipment in tow bounce carelessly down the road. My wife decides to take a pleasing long hot shower.

10:30 am… As Kathy’s shower continues we unload our stuff, find helmets and paddles… don our life-vests, break up into crews and drag our rafts into the water. We are given a quick Ben Hur lesson on rowing together, starting and stopping together, and finally crouching down & holding on for dear life together. The final practice session consists flipping our boats, swimming out from beneath it, and dragging ourselves back aboard. We are declared ready and paddle eagerly towards our first set of rapids. We start off small… a 1½ beginner’s ride… then a 3 and finally a class 5 set of rapids that knocks us around and excitingly fills our raft with water.

12:06 pm… Back at the resort, Kathy and her friends chat happily about this and that. Meanwhile, our boat has just spun into what is colorfully called the “Dead Dutchman”. We smash into the boiling mess sideways, flip upside-down spilling all onboard. I surfaced quickly; swallowing a bucketful of river as a wave and then a bigger wave crashes over me. I float down the Nile until a kayak comes to rescue me and returns me to my vessel and those nearly not hung-over shipmates.

Lunchtime… The armada drifts together and we dine on fresh pineapple, seedy watermelon, a yellow sticky juice, and biscuits. At the Nile Resort my wife enjoys fresh pineapple, barbecued chicken, potatoes, a selection of vegetables, passion-fruit juice, and chocolate cake.

Lunchtime… The armada drifts together and we dine on fresh pineapple, seedy watermelon, a yellow sticky juice, and biscuits. At the Nile Resort my wife enjoys fresh pineapple, barbecued chicken, potatoes, a selection of vegetables, passion-fruit juice, and chocolate cake.

2:12 pm… As Kathy sips on water with lemon she is wondering whether or not to take a nap, to cool off in the pool, or to continue reading her book. At precisely the same moment I’m talking with God… With a class 5 rapid ahead we watched as Boat #1, her crew whooping and yelling, slip over the edge of the falls. Their shouts are cut off abruptly and we watch as the raft explodes back into sight, paddles and paddle-ers flinging skyward. Our guide grins and informs us that this section of water (adultly called the “G-Spot”) is very fast and rough. “No joke”, I think to myself. You can’t see any of the dangerous water as the ride starts with a quick drop… you can’t see it but you sure can hear it! As we near the falls the rumble turns into a riotous roar… An instant before we plummet over the crest of the waterfall we witness what awaits us. Deafening white water. Misshapen waves, splash and swirl… smashing and crashing into, above, over and under each other. It is rolling frolicking disaster. My conversation with the Almighty takes place in the wink of an an eye.

"Oh good God.."
“Yes?”
“Uh – sorry, but I think I’ve gotten in over my head. "
“I can see that.”
“Well now what do I do?”
“Hold on tight and try not to frighten the others.”

With a nanosecond prayer we drop in and slide over the first obstacle…

2:12 and 30 seconds pm… Kathy decides to keep reading. I’m frantically searching for air. Our boat has capsized and I cannot find. I’m trying my best not to panic underwater but everything is green and I’m… underwater. When I at last make it back above the green swirl, a Ugandan in a rescue kayak once again comes and fishes me out. This time I have to sit in another boat while the other my now not-so-hung-over shipmates are gathered up. We raft for another couple of hours before calling it a day. The trip was a blast even if I did nearly drown. (Thanks again for listening Lord.)

It should be noted that during this adventuresome day, my wife also had some excitement. As the rafters rode back to the campsite drinking beer in the back of a dusty truck, Kathy had a gecko drop into her Pepsi at the Indian food restaurant.

More stories to come… miss you all!!

-Lonnie & Kathy

4 Comments:

At August 06, 2006 2:27 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Coach, that was a hilarious account of our rafting together...but I don't have any idea who you are referring to being hung over. In addition, you didn't mention the part about screaming like a little girl.

 
At April 22, 2007 1:48 PM, Blogger ROLEX MAKER said...

u gotta have it! some brogrens are rappers ---tha CD is out. and from what i hear its ballistic! u gotta have it –mbu the records will take u to paradise. CB did the review. see http://dennozbug.blogspot.com

 
At May 07, 2007 3:38 PM, Blogger Lonnie said...

Does anyone understand what rolex maker is trying to say? Does he like the story or not?
-Lonnie

 
At June 26, 2007 6:06 PM, Blogger Carol said...

Hi! I know Brian Dunn but am not sure how often he checks his email.

I have an IDEA for you guys and want to run it by you? I sell Lemongrass products here in Colorado and want to do a box gift to the Uganda team of soaps and lotions? I dunno. We have other stuff but I figured bar soaps might be the best thing.

Anyway, is that something you could use? I would really love to send a big box if you could!

-Carol

(if you want to look and see what we have and what would be appropriate: www.ourlemongrassspa.com/Carol )

 

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