Joining the Jinja Tourism Board

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 26, 2010

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Where I stayed
Explorers River Camp

Flag of Uganda  ,
Thursday, August 12, 2010

We had a very early start from Kabale (think 5:30am) for the long journey to Jinja. We had the option of staying the night in Kampala but I think everyone was more excited to just get to Jinja. The reason for this was because I had already been constantly raving about how excellent Jinja was. I was eventually given the nickname JTB and people started coming to me for answers to everything about Jinja. They even gave Ollie a hard time and said he might lose his job as tour leader to me.

Anyhow, we set out early and spent the entire day travelling to Jinja. We made a very late bank, grocery and lunch stop in Kampala and eventually made it to Jinja before the sun went down. It was great for me to be back as I loved it the first time and I was really happy to get back settled in at the River Camp. Nothing much happened the night we arrived, just some dinner and drinks overlooking the Nile. The next day I went out and saw my friend Omar who runs a chapati stand just outside the gates of our camp. It was good to see him again and I grabbed a rolex and bought rolexes for all the boda boda guys outside the gate and the gate security. They all thought this was the best thing in the world and Omar liked the business too. Pretty good day when you can feed and make 10 people happy for under 5 dollars! I spent much of the day relaxing and I took a boda into town to get some things I needed. I found a pair of flip-flops for 1 dollar in the local market, so unfortunately I can't legitimately refer to myself as a gypsy anymore, but that is probably a good thing. I spent some more time wandering around in there, passed by sardine row, spent some time answering questions from local shopkeepers that don't usually see Mzungus walking around in the market. Fun times indeed. I also found a Ugandan soccer jersey so I grabbed that too. The locals seem to love that I wear it around in Jinja as well. Took a boda back to camp in the afternoon to hang out for a bit more. I love this 10km stretch from town to Bujagali Falls which is where our camp is. The first time I was here 3 weeks ago I said it felt like it was the most I've ever felt like I was truly experiencing the world and life, and it felt the same again. It is just so awesome riding along the red dirt roads and seeing rural Africa pass you by, and smiling and waving to the little kids who run to the side of the road as you pass by with big smiles on their face. Just amazing.

For dinner that night we had Omar make us a huge pile of fresh chapatis and we cooked up some really nice fajitas. I quickly became even better friends with Omar as I got to go tell him the good news about the big order we were placing.

The next day was the big highlight: rafting the Nile again! I had been talking this up for a long time about how much fun it was and the JTB convinced everyone to go. I was interested in doing some lunatic rafting and going through as many of the crazy rapids as possible and everyone seemed to be in for this option so I was excited I had already worked out who was coming in my boat. But when the morning arrived people started wimping out and choosing boat crews that weren't going to be doing all the crazy rapids. Only Arizona Jack and myself were left wanting to do the lunatic rafting, but I finally managed to convince the Dutch boys to join us as well, even though I didn't really give them much of a choice. We found two more American guys and I talked to Doug, the leader of the expedition down the Nile to take my crew. Anton wasn't working today so Doug would be the only other guy that would run some of the more crazy stuff, so it was good that we got in his boat.

He didn't disappoint either as we had 6 huge spills on the day. So much fun and the video we saw that night was hilarious, so I bought the pictures and DVD. So many good moments from the day on the river. We also saw many eagles on the river, and we had one straight hour of torrential downpour in the middle of the day sandwiched between blazing hot sun in the morning and the afternoon. The downpour was great though and all you could do was laugh as everyone looked like a drowned rat eating their soggy pineapple and biscuits. I loved every minute of it. Even the Dutch boys loved it after all was said and done and thanked me for forcing them to go lunatic rafting with me.

That evening was spent in the bar as we all watched the big screen movie from the day on the river and we all said goodbye to Arizona Jack and Marko who were leaving early the next morning. We gave them a proper send-off and it was sad to see them go. The next day I spent wandering around the camp. I also decided to buy one of Omar's t-shirts but I had to spend quite a few hours directing him on how to do it and spell the words properly for his "Uganda Chapati Company" I also wanted to get a small JTB added to my bright orange t-shirt so I had to oversee that process too, but the man delivered and a few of us bought his shirts. The man can make a good chapati! I spent the afternoon swimming down in the Nile and enjoying the rest of my time there. It is a huge shame because by this time next year the entire upper half of the river that the rafting and campsite is based at is going to a big lake. A huge dam is being built downriver and all of the river upstream of it will just be turned into a giant lake. The beauty that has been there for millions of years will now all be underwater and it is quite a tragedy, so I tried to think of how lucky I was to be enjoying it. The sun soon went down on our last night in Jinja as our time in Uganda came to an end. We had a local African lady come in to cook us a traditional dinner of goat stew, tilapia (fish) in sauce, pilau, matoke, and sweet potatoes. It was quite delicious and everyone enjoyed it. Nothing much happened the rest of the night but I had a good sleep. I was up early in the morning to get my tent down and instead of everyone pitching in to make breakfast everyone decided to have a rolex from Omar which was much quicker and far more tasty than the cereal and toast we would have had. Soon after we piled on board our bus and pulled out of the campsite. I poked my head out the window and said goodbye to Omar and the rest of the locals I had befriended. It was sad to be leaving Jinja as it is definitely one of my favorite places I have ever been in my travels.

We made it to the border after a few hours and I left Uganda as an "Esteemed Member of the Jinja Tourism Board". I'd like to think I'm a good ambassador for Jinja too. What a great place.

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