Greetings from Uganda!
Well it’s been a long time between newsletters. After announcing the date it was action stations, endless to-do lists, dealing with a fair few curve balls and a bit of a stressful ride at times. Some days I wonder how it’s taken so long to organise this expedition but when I look at what’s been ticked off that to-do list, I try to cut myself some slack.
The weeks before departure were hectic and as the date grew closer the self-doubt grew, the fear of the unknown, feeling utterly daunted and regularly asking myself “What on earth was I thinking?!” in deciding to do this trip. There were plenty of sleepless nights. Being here now, while there is still apprehension and feeling a bit overwhelmed at times, I’m so glad I didn’t give up.
It is fantastic to be here - while it felt like a massive leap of faith, it was definitely the right call. I've been blown away by the help and kindness of everyone I've met. From providing contacts, to giving advice, to coming on board with the trip and offering places to stay. It's been amazing. And it's such a stunning part of the world.
One of the many highlights has been meeting with Paulo who will be the rafting guide. He's been a rafting guide here for over two decades. For a number of years he was Uganda’s top freestyle kayaker and represented Uganda at two world championship events. He has also traveled widely, taking part in a first descent of the Kagera River in Rwanda (the section we'll be starting with) and has paddled in France and South Africa. It is brilliant to be do all the planning with him. He's been amazing - so knowledgable, has been getting the rest of the team together and helping organising it all. Thank you Paulo!
Like I said, the run up to departure was full on. Quite literally to the moment I left. I was repacking my hand luggage with the driver waiting outside to take me to the airport. I was hanging for the moment the luggage was checked in, the departure gate was behind me and I could relax. I arrived at the airport, lugging my 57kg of bags, got to check in to hear a “Hello there”. Turned around to best surprise possible – four of my mates wearing Paddle the Nile tops, were there to send me off.
I promptly burst into tears – could not believe they’d come all the way to see me off! Checked in and got to hang with them before making my way to departures. It was awesome – to have them there for that final step. Sue, Domi, Peta and Sam – THANK YOU – you’re the absolute best!
ALL THE RAGE
Now they aren’t the only people out and about wearing Paddle the Nile tops. As mentioned a few newsletters ago I got to chat to briefly to Hugh Jackman about my trip as he comes to North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club when he’s in town. He was back recently and I gave him a hoodie. Two days later he was snapped by the media wearing it.
How good’s that?!!!
The focus now in a nutshell is:
testing equipment like the satellite phone, GPS, water filter
build the team for the Rwandan section
sort out the logistics to get to source and get the permits in place
keep talking to everyone here and asking lots of questions
work out how to turn 57kg of luggage into something that can be fitted into a raft and then a kayak
working on visas for the remainder of the trip
get out on the river
Safe to say, boredom isn’t going to be an issue! And I’m doing all of this in THE most stunning location. Here the view from where I’m writing this. This is Nile River Explorers - the best place to stay here. They have everything from camping through to private en suite rooms. AND they are very generously giving me the accomodation here. Love it - might never leave!!
Well that's it for this update. My parting message for is this update is follow your dreams, however wild and crazy they are. You don’t need to know how or have all the answers. Just start and you’ll work it out on the way. "One day or day one. You decide." Take one step today and you’re that bit closer to making it happen…