Last Thursday, my roommate L, her visiting childhood friend, and I took the night bus down to Kampala. Upon arrival to the capital, we chowed down some chocolate croissants and coffee, my colleague joined us and we all squeezed into a “matatu” (mini-van taxi) and headed to Jinja. Four friends ready for a thrilling weekend. We were going to raft the Nile River.
Now, being a decent swimmer, water polo player, and mediocre surfer, I wasn’t too worried about taking on the river. I had also been rafting before and felt that my brief times kayaking/canoeing as a young Girl Scout had prepared me to at least know how to paddle. This was all true, but nothing could have prepared me for how exciting it would be.
Every single dip, plunge, swirl, and lurch had me smiling like a goofy/crazy 10-year old (The pictures prove this). Our guide would describe the next rapids and exactly what we would have to do. Certain ones he would say, “we may flip here but it’s okay” and for others: “we do not want to flip, there is a giant rock underneath.” And when the inevitable capsize happened, I found myself letting the waves furiously fight around me as I spun peacefully until I popped up under the raft, in a perfect, echoing, air pocket. Getting back into the raft and securing my paddle grip again, I would smile and wonder what rapids were up next. In between rapids, I swam and frolicked, letting the current carry me. It was nothing short of amazing and refreshing. (I can even say I peed in the Nile!)
With rapids named “Hair of the Dog,” “Vengeance,” “Dead Dutchman,” and “The Bad Place,” it’s no wonder this expedition is not for the fainthearted. But isn’t that life? While I’m probably not the first to say this nor will I be the last, I couldn’t help but feel like the Nile River is a perfect metaphor for life. There are certain currents I just can’t fight and there will always be problems around me that I am unable to fix. Meanwhile, other currents will carry me faster and exactly where I want to go if I let them. It’s not possible to see the bottom but I believe in myself enough to stay afloat, regardless of what lies below or ahead.