Based on a recommendation from Matija, I decided to give whitewater rafting a shot in Jinja. I felt so guilty that I was going without Trevor, but there was nothing I could do. I knew we’d be reunited soon enough, and I’d be sure to make it up to him.
This was something I was always too afraid to try on account of the fact that I can’t swim. Matija explained that you can request to have your raft not flip and that there weren’t that many rocks, so even if you do fall over, you’ll just float in your lifejacket until somebody picks you up again.
And since Olive wasn’t working at the time, I invited her to join me in Jinja, which is just a few hours north of Kampala. She was happy to join me, and so the next morning, we were headed to Jinja.
Unfortunately, Olive failed to tell me that not only can she not swim, but she is petrified of water! When we arrived at the starting point, Davey, our guide, gave us lifejackets and took us in the water to see just how comfortable we wer in the water–in case we happened to flip.
I was perfectly fine, but holy crap, poor Olive was crying and screaming! She was holding on to Davey as if her life depended on it! He kept urging her to let go of him, but she wouldn’t listen. He was holding her at arm’s length to try and get her to lie back and float on her back, but she was squirming all over. Then she accidentally gave Davey a solid kick in the one place a man never wants to be kicked, and that was when he’d had enough. Davey peeled her hands off of his arms and basically thrust her into the water. She wailed and kicked, but she didn’t sink! Davey got her to turn on her stomach, and then back on her back. “She’s going to die today,” I thought to myself. “And Davey is going to die saving her. Cra.”
Thankfully, we never flipped. We were in the safety raft, or as one of the guides in the other raft called it, the chicken rat. With the exception of the very first set of rapids, it was actually a pretty safe ride all the way through. The first set was brutal. Heavy on the rocks. I totally thought we were going to crash into some rocks and flip over, but we had a master navigator to guide us through.
There were a pair of metal bars across the middle of the raft. These bars supported a wooden plank. On top of the plank sat a large cube. This was where Moses, our navigator sat. He rowed with two massive wooden oars. I’m sure it must have been impressive to watch him control and manoeuvre the raft through those violent rapids, but we were too busy holding on for dear life as we were pummelled by wall after wall of water. I don’t know how Moses could move the raft so swiftly while being bombarded by those crazy rapids.
While we managed to survive the first hectic rapids, the right oar in our raft couldn’t say the same. Of course, being professionals, our guys carried an extra oar for just such an occasion.
There were two upsides to sitting in the safety raft: 1) We got to enjoy the show and watch everybody else flip. It was actually pretty hilarious to watch. 2) We didn’t have to row. We just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
In between rapids, there were long stretches of peaceful and tranquil waters. Everybody jumped in for a quick swim during these times. (Well, everybody except Olive. She was people watching.)
Later on, as we ate lunch, one of the girls in the other raft told me that she was actually pretty terrified when her raft flipped. She was trapped underneath the raft, and she felt like she was going to drown. Another girl actually joined our safety boat just before the 8th and final set of rapids because she knew their raft was going to flip, and she didn’t particularly enjoy it the first time around. So I was pretty happy with our decision. I totally would have broken down and cried like a baby. Dammit, I need to learn how to swim.