Any country that caters for the big in hip and makes a public display of it has a place in my heart forever. Deep in the heart of me, this she-of-childbearing-hips-who-only-had-two- children, person. Only two children, I mean really, what a waste. Well that too. Big hips and what-a-waist! But I digress with dress…..
Uganda – the pearl of Africa, you have my heart. Not only for your politically correct clothing displays but because you are indeed a pearl. Rich in luster, you glowed ever so gorgeous in your lavish green finery, bluish grey rain filled skies and generous displays of fruit and veg grown from the rich fertile land. The helter skelter of typical African traffic, traditionally totally chaotic, joined and jostled by the 1.2 million people mostly stacked up on the back of boda boda’s.
From the twenty three up-and-down and-up-again hills of Kampala to the early morning hiss of the Nile river as its condensation lifted lazily towards the new-day sun, belying the rapids boiling, churning and tumbling below.
Uganda, you have my heart.
And I’ll be back. To enjoy your cleanly swept and litter free streets. To find your gorillas in the mist, to bounce on the back of a boda boda, drink banana beer and relish a rolex. And hopefully, oh yes please, to repeat the white water rafting on the Nile. Just a bucket-list thing. Now crossed off but too much fun for an only once.
We left Kampala early in the morning – the seven of us all in dear friends, Craig and Angie’s crash proof car. You know, those magically special vehicles, the inside of which you draw breath through your teeth, quietly, as you hold your hand to your heart trying to stop it from beating your lungs to death. And then to exhale loudly in pure relief as you thank the car and its magic and the angels and Jesus and the capable driver, your last bacon and egg sarmie and anything else you can think of for expelling, from your cars personal space, the large and loud container trucks travelling far too close and far too fast, violating every road rule imaginable.
It poured the whole way to Jinja – much to my delight coming from a rain starved desert.
It rained when we got to the rafting starting site and it poured through the safety briefing. Probably a good thing as it disguised the sweating anguish displayed from some of the party at the thought of boat flippings into deep and turbulent waters, ever ready to tie you in a knot and savagely shoot you out somewhere downstream, dead or alive!
Our main guide, a Kiwi with a great sense of humour and huge sense of our collective nerves did much to set our minds at rest and it wasn’t long before we were ready to rock the river, the sun came out and we were easing our way down the mighty Nile in a piece of plastic supported only by a one sided oar and a thin rope on which to cling. Oh the things humans do for fun!
Fun it was too. Trying to stay inside the raft on a rapid took skill, strength and sheer will. None of which I had, for the wild water continually won, causing the boat to flip and for us to fly through the air at supersonic speed before being unceremoniously dumped, anything first into a billion bubbles and a sweeping current that churned and pulled and pushed every and any appendage, all which ways. And not gently either. I remember one time, as the water pulsed in my eyes and ears, thinking about how nice it would be just to take a breath – gasp gasp – but allowing myself to relax into the fact that the life jacket would pop me up and spit me out into the air within 5 seconds and that all would be ok. And it was, if only for a couple more seconds, just enough time gulp in some air to relieve the burn before another white wave smacked me hard around the head and full up the nose. Yes, I call that fun! Especially as the safety kayaks were right there, at the ready to tow us in, allow some respite and deposit us right back into the big boat, a few bruises and a whole lot of adrenaline richer.
After each of these interludes, the river stilled and allowed us to float in the tide of pleasurable near silence and peace. Voices lowered and fish eagles called as our hearts slowed and regained normality. The beauty and serenity of untapped Africa seeping into our city stifled hearts and souls.
Oh….Africa, you’ve always had my heart.
Uganda you have my heart and soul and because you honour my hips – I will be back.
Oh yes, I will be back and may God hold you in the palm of his hand until we meet again. On the back of a boda boda, side saddled in a wide hipped dress billowing in the wind…..