Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Well things are plodding along here, Adrian has now arrived, tassie paddler from home and someone I hung out with a fair bit last summer. Also a couple more American boaters and a Swede have turned up too so there are a few more people around.
We’ve been heading down to the Ugly Sisters rapid a fair bit which has a great surf wave on it, unfortunately behind the surf wave is a large hydraulic and you only have limited time to roll up and paddle back into the eddy unless you want to test the power of the pourover.

The first day Kat paddled it she missed a few rolls on the lead in and ended up in a eddy on the opposite side of the river to the rest of us, unfamiliar with the rapid she got out of her boat to have a look but from what I could see the jungle like trees were too thick to get through. She looked upset, washing her face with water and sitting partly in the water in the eddy. When the boys had finished surfing they all ran the rapid to the left of the pourover and I decided to walk my boat back up a way and ferry over to Kat on the right hand side – after all I wasn’t leaving her to paddle and unknown drop on her own. I misjudged the force of the water when I was trying to get into the eddy huge boils and whirlies threw me off line and I looked over my shoulder to see a nice green line down through the sticky pourover. I called to Kat that there was a line and dropped in, to the boys in the eddy below it looked like I’d just dropped into one of the largest holes on the river… unbeknownst to them the green tongue of water I paddled down surged into a wave right when I hit and I got stuck surfing. Kat could see me but I was out of sight from the boys who had just seen me drop into what they thought was a hole and simply disappear. Kat witnessed my huge bounces and I pulled my boat round into a front surf and attempted to carve off the wave – suddenly I bounced high in the air and the nose of my boat dug into the green water as I landed – the result was I was air-launched out of the back of the wave. Anyway Kat paddled the right without a problem … hehehe not really sure I did the best job of rescuing her but hey, at least I provided her with some entertainment. Turns out she wasn’t upset at all but that the trees were full of ants that left her with numerous red stingy itchy bites all over her arms, neck and back – that’s why she was washing her face.
Yesterday I had what Timmy would call sub-optimal river bed interaction – ie. I hit a rock with my shoulder and have a lovely scrape and bruise. It’s a bit sore today so I’m taking the day off, trying to upload some photos which is painfully slow of course.
I’ve now extended my flights, so I’m home for Christmas – arrived at 1am on Christmas day in fact ;-)
It’s Halloween and of course – like everything at NRE this calls for a fancy dress party. Luckily Jinja market is a goldmine of amazing clothes and various knick knacks that create the most amazing costumes. I’ve picked a wedding dress (somewhat 80s in style) for a mere 20000 shillings (about $15) … can’t wait to see everyone else’s costumes tonight, we had a bit of a practice run on Saturday – Thatcher looks great in a string bikini and Robin Hood and Pippi Longstocking were in the bar too.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Team Estrogen Goes to Sipi

Well after getting a little bit of NRE overload Kat and escaped with Aliya, Megan and Philippa to Sipi Falls in Eastern Uganda near the Kenyan border. We just went for two days and stayed in a lovely cliff top camp right next to one of the waterfalls that gives the area its name.
It was a real girls road trip, complete with girly music. We did a walk to the base of one of the waterfalls – it’s a fall of about 90m down a lovely yellowy red cliff face in the midst of the lush green landscape – absolutely amazing.The road to and from there was quite amazing, clouds of dusts, trucks appearing out of no where and of course this the main road between Uganda and Kenya incorporating potholes that could hide a cow and random police check points as well as the usual bicycle and livestock traffic that you find on any African road.
Anyway we’re now back at NRE for some more paddling.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sad News

Well time for another update as the six are now down to two with Kylie having left for the UK/Spain and then on to Sth America and Ruth, Steff and Marj back in Melbourne. This week has been overshadowed by the death of a kayaker back home in northern NSW on the weekend, tragically the kayaker was Simon Vos, Steff's partner and someone I paddled with at Easter when I flew up to QLD.
Marj was on the river with Simon at the time, as were three other boaters whom I know from the Easter trip and Penrith. Despite CPR efforts until the helicopter came Simon had been under water for too long and nothing could be done. Steff was in the air on her way home at the time of the accident and so got met at the airport by Marj who broke the news.
Despite all knowing the risks, it's a shock when someone you know dies doing the sports we all love. Steff and Marj are as ok as can be expected – they and the rest of the crew and Simon's family are in our thoughts right now.
The scene here is quiet at the moment, there aren't many boaters around but that's kind of nice in a way as it was so busy when we got here. We've had a lot of runs down Silverback – a section that incorporates fives of the largest rapids on the river and the way to get back to camp is on the back of a boda boda (motorcycle) with kayak across your knees between you and the driver – hehehe – trouble is the kayak is quite wide so we accidentally nudged a cow the other day.
Kat and I are having a great time buying material and getting skirts made at a local tailor, and even more fun is to be had by riding the boda boda's sidesaddle when wearing the above mentioned skirts (all the African women ride this way).
Adrian (from Tassie) should be turning up tomorrow which is awesome – yay for more people to play with.
Kat and I are both toying with the idea of staying a few extra weeks to see the Nile kayak festival which is in early December but nothing has been decided yet.
Anyway our boda boda's are waiting outside to take us home…
Lots of love to everyone, please don't worry we are being very safe on a river that has a record of being very safe. Apart from minor ear infections etc we're all healthy and happy. And for everyone else doing those normal weekend trips to Araps, etc and paddling, please take care out there.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Malaria, staph infections and anything but clothes

Well it's been an eventful week, Kat's had an infection from a cut in her foot and has been on broad antibiotics. On Saturday a group of us (minus Kat) went down to paddle the day-2 section organising a pick u from Hairy Lemon at 6pm. After five swims and a broken paddle and at least one T-rescue we finally made it back to Hairy Lemon at 7pm in the midst of a huge thunderstorm and buckets of rain which made for an interesting drive back to NRE and we arrived tired and hungry at 9pm to find Kat had taken a major turn for the worse and Thatcher was with her at the clinic in town.

They returned very soon as the clinic in town had not had power so couldn't do anything and had diagnosed malaria without any test and sent her home! I wasn't happy with that as I was worried about the infection in the foot, so I spoke to Aliya who runs the restaurant attached to the Nile Porch (another part of NRE) and she made some phone calls and convinced one of the international doctors to see us in town. So we bundled Kat back into a car, she was barely with us and not looking well at all, and it was off to the international clinic where we were met by a lovely Dr Charles and his nurse and they had a generator on so there was power.

A quick finger prick test told him it wasn't malaria and he diagnosed a staph infections from the cut in her foot. Pumped full of IV antibiotics and with a canulla in her hand in case she needed more IV antibiotics in the morning we took a slightly improved Kat back home a lot happier that we knew what was wrong. Aliya had also given us a room in the Nile Porch (a much classier style of accommodation catering to a cleaner, richer market than us paddlers) for the night so that Kat would have a bathroom close and bed rather than a tent. Luckily in the morning Kat had improved enough that Dr Charles decided that oral antibiotics would be fine and there wasn't any need for more IV antibiotics.

Add to this the fact that Josh has just got Malaria (Aliya was looking after him in her banda) - poor Josh they left at midnight last night for their flight to Zambia and he was not well despite the malaria treatment almost being finished.

And then as usual the parties have been fun, Monday was Thatcher's birthday and we celebrated with an "anything but clothes" party. I was wearing pages of Newsweek with gaffer tae to hold it on, Josh was in inflatable pool toys, Kylie was wear a cardboard box... needless to say it was a huge night.

Anyway today we're off to the Hairy Lemon again just for two nights before Steff and Kylie leave on Saturday and Monday respectively. That is, as long as Steff's passport has come from the Nairobi Australian embassy.

anyway so Kat is well and truly on the mend and starting to get bored, the rest of us are fine apart from the occasional hangover... hope all is well back home. Good luck in the Lea race this weekend to everyone who is going down, hope there's water for it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Adventures, Passports and Stitches

Well in the last week the group split up a bit for some adventures with Steff and matt heading off to see the gorillas, and marj, kat and kylie went to Sipi Falls but with my shoulder starting to feel better and also having had enough of traveling in matatus (mini busses packed with people, chickens etc) for a while I opted to stay at NRE camp.
A new groups of Irish paddlers turned up and Thatcher and Josh volunteered to show them down the river, Walker and I walked down to Bujagali falls to watch. Unfortunately one of the Irish girls whacked her head on the first rapid and I said I'd walk out with her, this then turned into a walk to the clinic and holding her head while she got three stitches as well - but she seemed to take this in her stride - apparently not the first time she's been concussed.
Steff also had her bag stolen on the way to the gorillas, so due to the fact that there is no Australian embassy or consulate here she now can't fly home today and has to wait for a replacement passport. The Canadian consulate acts as an agent for the aussie consulate in Nairobi - so everything has to be sent there and back again... oh well there are worse places to be stuck really.
The last two days I've been back paddling the river - so much happier now I'm paddling again. Another Irish paddler turned up yesterday (there seem to be a lot of Irish around) and we took him down the river, the first run down was uneventful but he had a swim on the first rapid when we did an afternoon run. It was just above Bujagali falls and there were a whole lot of tourists watching and one of the local guys threw him a 20ltr plastic Gerry can as extra floatation however he managed to swim into an eddy just above the rapid (after me yelling at him "let go of your boat and SWIM") - I chased the boat down the rapid and apart from a few new scratches on the boat we were no worse off.
At the bottom of one of the larger rapids a monitor lizard sat on a rock eating a rather large but also dead snake and there were monkeys in the trees overhanging the river - I love Africa!
Right now it's absolutely belting down rain .... hmm this will make the motorbike (boda boda) ride home from town interesting as the rich red soil turns to rich red mud and it's kind of slippery - oh well if it keeps raining like this I'll pay my boda boda driver and just get a taxi back...
anyway hope all is well back home, I hear there is no rain there yet - no rivers running. Fingers crossed there's water for the Lea race.