Saturday, June 12, 2010

From the Archives: A 3 Hour Tour

The Day We Hit A Hippo

The day was going so well. After a week of hard work, little rest, and lots of beans and rice, we were off to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a day of relaxation. We sat down for a lunch that began with an ice cold "soda," our first in a week. And by ice cold I mean sweat dripping down the bottle, feel the chill as it goes down, down, down into your belly kind of cold. Refreshing.

Once we finished lunch, we were ushered down to the river for a boat ride. We saw a large double-decker and assumed that was our ride for the afternoon, but were brought over to something that looked like it wanted to be a pontoon boat when it grew up.

I was taking in the view next to my good friend and roommate, Madie. We were enjoying our group's private tour of the Kasinga Channel which connects Lake George and Lake Edward in Western Uganda.

We were watching an elephant parade

Hippos hydrating

And bathing water buffalo who had us breaking out in song.

I leaned back to relax and put my arm on the seat behind Madie.

About twenty seconds later we hear an awful chopping noise, a grunt, and we all start flying. People are yelping. The boat's edge meets the water's edge. And I start having flashbacks to my 12th grade physics teacher telling us that if we were ever in a situation where the edge of the boat became level with the water GET OUT OF THE BOAT! But he didn't tell us what to do if the boat happened to be in an African channel full of angry hippos and hungry crocodiles!
And just as I was remembering that all I have to do is be able to swim faster than the slowest person in the water, Madie goes flying into the air, and like some scene from a movie everything started going in slow motion. I grabbed onto her with the arm that was behind her as I was bringing my other arm around to pull her back down to the seat, and I may or may not have been screaming like a little boy who screams like a girl.

And suddenly, it was silent. I sat there for a few seconds holding onto Madie for dear life. Then we glanced behind the boat to see the face of a very disoriented hippo. He had had large gashes on his back, some looked like they had already healed. He stared at us as if to say, "Oh man, not again!"

Here is a reinactment of the moment of panic as we thought we were going into the river and proof that when you hit a bump in the water of life, make sure you have someone next to you who will laugh with you after you've been screaming like a little boy (who screams like a girl).

- Aly

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