The month of January has come and gone, though not entirely in Vain. Ive done some pretty cool things, and I've done some pretty stupid things, and most coincide with both of those characteristics.
My last weekend was certainly one of note. After In Service Training (which is the final step towards Peace Corps giving me and the rest of my group free-king of-reign to go out and do the projects we want to do) 36 out of the 45 of us decided to celebrate our new found (relative) freedom by conquering the Nile. Let me describe said conquering action well, so that you all can be terribly jealous of me.
As we arrived at Nile River Explorers, I knew that I was going to be in for quite a night. Because I had done the coordinating of the trip for the weekend, I was fully aware of all of the bad and good planning that had been accomplished. The stupidest of all of these plans made by yours truly was to set up the "Sunset Cruise" of the Nile the night Before the rafting.
The name sunset cruise was seen through immediately by my group, and referred to it always as the "Booze Cruise"; basically it was a double deck pontoon boat that powered us around for two hours while supplying unlimited drinks and food. Giving this opportunity to people who have chosen to live off of less than $300 a month for the next 2 years is dangerous; free refills are never overlooked. Combine this with the fact that the bartenders at NRE spoke Ateso (my local language in the east), and committed to giving me free shots BEFORE the booze cruise...yeah. It was an interesting night. Fade out...
Fade in. It's 8:33, says my watch...but wait, don't the buses going rafting leave at 8:30? Yeah. They do. Before I can realize what's happening, I'm walking out of my room in the clothes that I wore all day yesterday, and throughout the booze cruise and the subsequently fuzzy events afterwards, outside. Immediately I notice a bunch of very familiar white people leaving on a bus, all of whom are wearing bathing suits and general athletic attire. Ah. This is my group. I cut my losses, run towards the bus with Cole Haan penny loafers, J-Crew Khakis, and a Brooks Brother long sleeve Button down. If that isn't Rafting gear, I simply don't know what is. My group thought the whole thing was hillarious, of course. As was deserved, I got questions of my well being from almost everyone in the group, even though there was NO question how I was feeling, and that "well being" would not be my first words of description for myself.
Throughout what must have been the bumpiest and most terrible 30 minute ride of my life, I am just hoping that I'm able to regurgitate the liquid substances that I consumed the night prior, so that I may be able to actually enjoy what should be one of the coolest experiences of my life. It doesn't happen, and we arrive at the site where the company is going to serve us breakfast. I arrive at the front desk, and luckily they know my name, and because I have coordinated the trip and brough this company around 40 muzungus worth of business, they allow me to borrow some board shorts. I skip breakfast, and instead find a comfortable spot of compacted dirt just beside the building to lay down in.
By now everybody has seen my terrible state, and questions are arising as to whether I'm even going to be able to ride on the Nile at all, much less face the 4 class V rapids which will be facing us in the 6 hour rafting trip we'd all signed up for. Pride is luckily strong enough of a personality trait inside of me that I recognize my group's doubts, and counter them by jumping up (thereby nearly inducing a vomit all over the helmets laid out for our use) and asking the head rafting guide who the "craziest, stupidest, most fucking crazy rafting guide that is going on our trip is." She laughs, and points over to Nathan. Nathan and I exchange handshakes, and he sees how I feel, hears what I'm asking, and instantly we understand each other perfectly. Hangover or no hangover, this is going to be one hell of a trip. And hell yeah, I'm sitting in the front of the raft.
6 hours later, Me and the rest of my raft (consisting of Alexi, Aregnaz, Kate, Lisa, and Bryce) have flipped 5 times, and completed what was absolutely one of the coolest things I've ever done. It wouldn't have been the same without my group there, encouraging me and (perhaps mockingly) pushing me along the entire way. I am SOooooo happy that we got nearly the entire group to go; there is NO WAY it would have been the same, or half as much fun, without all of you there.
That night, I fall asleep at 9. I wake up at 6 the next morning, and within three hours I'm signing up to do another dream; bungee jumping. Over the nile, from 145 feet up? Ughhhh, ok. I take a tequilla shot (my only taste of tequilla since being in country) with Alexi and Chelsea, and then those two, Rebecca and I each take our solo plunge into the Nile. It was terrifying. I wish I could do it 40 more times. Alexi and I have promised to continue this rush on the next big trip, to Victoria falls. The bungee is almost 3 times as far a drop from there. Yikes.
After the Bungee, I went into Kampala and did some relaxing (kind of), then headed on home after a frustrating day of mock-consolidation tests. It was an amazing weekend.
Moral of the story: Don't feel bad for me, the lonely peace corps volunteer in the middle of nowhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is plenty of American'ed style fun here too.