Marcy had a pretty awesome set of places lined up for us to go in the first weeks of my visit. She was in between terms at the school she teaches at and has had a solid month off. We where taking full advantage of this time and bouncing around the country visiting a few of her colleges in the Peace Corps and some interesting sites and points of interest. However, Mar also had a meeting with a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) committee that we had to plan around. Originally she had planned on taking me to a place far west of Kampala called Fort Portal to see its famous crater lakes, BUT in less than a day the meeting was set, rescheduled, made to be very urgent, and then canceled. (Who knew the US Gov. is bureaucratic and inefficient) Through this process, our trip plans changed and re-changed and we finally made the decision to go someplace closer (at this point we had planned for the rescheduled meeting). It actually turned out to be a great call as we headed for Jinja, and the tourist area of Bujagali Falls.
We took a 1.5 hour Matatu (taxi) ride east of Kampala to the town of Jinja. There we met one of Marcy’s friends and fellow PCV’s named Greg in a small cafe in town. I immediately saw that this area was a bit different as we where seeing other Mazungu (this is what the Ugandans call me/us. It translates to white traveler, or just traveler). Marcy and Greg informed me that this area is probably the most tourist visited area of Uganda as it is located on the shore of Lake Victoria and the beginning of the Nile River. This section is called the Victorian Nile.
After Lunch we took a 20 kilometer car ride north to Bujagali Falls. Here we stayed in this cool little bungalow over looking the river. Nearby there was a Hostel/Bar/Restaurant called the NRE (Nile River Explorers). This place is filled with travelers from all over the globe, but its biggest draw is kayak’ers and white water enthusiasts as this section of the Nile is one of the best rivers to run in the world. This took me by surprise, as I would have never expected (why would you if you aren’t an avid river rat) that this place could be a world class destination for that sport.
As soon as we arrived and threw our bags into the the room, we all changed into swim gear and sprinted for the river. I never though I would actually say this, but I swam in the Nile River! The water was a classic clear iron brown river color and was very warm. Through the rapids there where small fishing boats and various crane and bird species. Such a cool experience.
I had a great night talking and debating with Marcy and Greg, both of whom lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn at the same time but never met until PC Uganda. We drank multiple Nile Specials and Club (Ugandan beer) and the local whiskey, Bond 7 which absolutely did my head in. Marcy was smart though and chose not to take multiple shots of the Bond 7. Probably because of past experiences and realizing that as my guide she shouldn’t be the one with a hang over.
The next morning we woke up and had a tasty greasy classic English breakfast. We bid Greg a fair well as he had to get back to his site, about an hour away, and Marcy and I went to Jinja’s taxi park, crammed into a coaster (Matatu, a Toyota Hiace Van with 4 rows of seats) and headed back to the dirty, hot bustle of Kampala.