Encountering the Nile
May 17th, 2022 by Benton Huang
Posted in Uncategorized|
Anne and I traveled to Jinja, one of the closest areas to the source of the Nile where we would try out white river rafting. I’ve been spoiled with top-tier scenery in Washington State, but regardless it was cool to see the largest river in Africa. It’s definitely not marketed as a blue, but it seemed calm, had a dull greenish, brownish color to it and supporting nearby green plants and trees. We went with a company called Nile River Explorers, which I would recommend – though totally unsure how it compares to others. If you’re curious, it was $120 for the whole day. We choose the highest difficulty possible, Grade 5 – might as well get the full experience, right? With no prior experience, I had little confidence in myself but the guides were insistent that I would be fine. I then signed a waiver regarding something, something, bodily injury, waterborne illness, death, etc. As the kids say these days, YOLO?
I had brought my wife’s GoPro for exactly this day and strapped it proudly on my chest. (Unfortunately, the footage ended up being terrible). We did some practice rowing and also jumped into the water to practice getting back into the raft. After trying to pull myself back into the raft, reality hit me that my upper body had no meaningful strength, so our guide offered to pull me in. I was in the Nile and insisted that I could do it, but nevertheless my last muscle fiber gave out and I had to be pulled in. It’s okay. I have no shame. We encountered our first rapid which was like a grade 3 in terms of difficulty. We paddled as fast as we could into it and once into the heart of it, took cover inside the raft and did our best to stay upright. We survived and it was much needed confidence booster. In between each rapid, was met with calmness and we coasted along until the next rapid, which we also survived. We had some snacks in between, a freshly cut pineapple blessed with the water of the Nile and some crackers. The extra touch of Giardia really enhanced the flavor.
The sun was hot, the sunscreen that I had applied would quickly wash off with the splashing water of each rapid. There was another raft that was just for carrying supplies and food, and I did my best tor re-apply but my skin had not had this much sun exposure for quite some time and I accepted my inevitable burns. We approached the last rapid. We again paddled as hard as we could into it, and then we braced ourselves as we let our fates be decided by the wrath of the rapids. The first wave hit and we stayed afloat, then the next one hit us so hard that I felt that I was flying, staring vertically up into the sky – I lost complete orientation of my body and was tossed from the raft. I eventually hit the water and tried to find my way above the surface. On our raft, we had a couple where the girlfriend had no swimming capabilities. He quickly spotted her and tried to swim towards her. Over in the distance I see Anne too with a bloody lower face – OUCH! There were designated people in kayaks nearby to rescue her, so I just stayed afloat where I was and let the Nile take me to Egypt or wherever. Eventually I was rescued and placed back on the raft. Anne had a small laceration below her lip (we concluded that a rogue paddle while we were in mid-air probably hit her. It was exciting – I’m happy that we fell over; I felt like I got the whole experience of a rafting trip in the Nile and glad that we got out with minimal injuries. We got back onto the bus that brought us there (it drove down from our initial departure site) and enjoyed some lunch and beer. The rest of day was spent treating my burns and resting. Nice.