Tuesday, February 10, 2004

White Water - Feb 10

I went white water rafting last weekend in Jinja, which is the source of the Nile. (About an hour and a half away from Kampala.)If you're curious, I went with a company called Adrift. It was absolutely the most incredible, awesome experience. The source of the Nile is supposed to be pretty much some of the best rafting in the world, thanks to lots of big huge rapids. All the rapids have names, and the last one of the day was called 'The Bad Place'. (the other rapid names are pretty non-scary.) It is the biggest rapid you can legally raft. Basically, in The Bad Place you ARE going to flip, and you ARE going to think you are maybe going to die. When you flip, you have no control over when you emerge from the water. It has nothing to do with how strong a swimmer you are, the force of the water at that level can't be fought. So, you're told to just hold your breath, try not flail, and wait. The way the rapids are in that section of the Nile there is no way you won't emerge in more than about 20-30 seconds, because of the way the water flows; so its actually not as dangerous as it feels. But that's a pretty long time to hold you're breath when you aren't prepared for it, and when you know there's nothing you can do to get out - it was sort of what i imagine being caught in an avalanche would feel like. Eventually, you end up in a 'drop pool' (the 'calmer' area below the rapids) where you realise you are still alive, and it goes from being terrifying to being the absolute most incredible - its an insane adrenaline rush. lotsandlotsoffun!

That's been my main 'activity' lately. I've been going out and drinking a lot, but that doesn't really feel like it should be making my 'news'.

One thing i'm finding strange - being an expat in Uganda is like being in high school, or living in a tiny town. Everybody knows everything about everybody, and everybody knows everybody, and there's a lot of partying and drinking. Its fun, but some of it seems excessive, mainly because a lot of them have no interest in going anywhere where there might be actual, gasp, africans; so they spend all their time in bars with nothing but ohter white expats. The gap between us and the locals (financial, educational, cultural) is just so huge that hanging out with them can be pretty exhausting, so you do need some 'mzungu time' for sanity's sake. I also feel like if we expats put stickers on our chests that said "i'm not giving you money or gifts and i'm not having sex with you" that probably not a single african would even bother saying hello. I'm curious about the contrast between my experience here and of other people's experiences in other developing countries - how much of this has to do with 'africa' vs 'development' vs 'race/ethnicity' (ie is cause i'm white or is it cause i'm 'rich'? Or can the two even be separated here?)

This past weekend I went back to Jinja for a party hosted by Adrift, the company that i went rafting with, to celebrate the opening of their new campsite & bar. (When i was there the week before it didn't even have electricity yet, so they really pulled it all together in a short time!) Lots of fun - we were camping right next to the bar, so no transportation issues, which is nice when drinking and driving is so incredibly rampant here. Good times, good times.


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