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January 9, 2006

Week One
Please, the next time I complain of not having enough
(food, money, time to surf, fresh water or room in my
home) material “stuff” please send me back to Uganda.
I on a remote self sufficient Island with no running
water, lights, or a bridge but there is internet and
phone service in the middle of Uganda on the White
Nile just downstream from Lake Victoria. I am
overwhelmed with my disbelief about the quality of
life here. I have never seen poor people with so
little and in contrast they are so welcoming to us. I
watched a mother, in scarce clothing, sitting in the
red dirt, nursing her baby wave vigorously to us as we
drove by in a truck loaded with people and kayaks. My
head does not know what to think as my culture tells
me this is sad, my heart ached for her, but I truly do
not know what I am suppose to think. In a country and
more so in the continent of Africa where Aids and HIV
is so problematic they want to teach safe sex by
telling the people of Uganda to practice the ABCs.
Abstain, Be faithful, Condoms as a last choice. In
Uganda they have a 6% rate of Aids/HIV, which is a lot
less than many other countries in Africa. Yet how do
you tell the poor of a nation to practice the ABCs
when sex is one of the “free” luxuries they can enjoy?
I find it heartbreaking that their luxury is deadly.
The mother setting in the red dirt does not have money
and if she did I do not think she would use it to buy
condoms. My head and heart do not know what to think
of this problem. Dr. Berger, one of my history
professors, once told me that sex during the time of
slavery was one of the free luxuries the slaves still
had. I found it so sad to think that their children
where born into slavery, now I have a whole new
scenario to consider; mother and father dying and the
child being born with HIV. I want to shut my eyes on
the shuttle run.

It is amazing how upsetting all of this is when
Malaria kills more people in Uganda than Aids/HIV.
Jessie Stone, fellow Team Jackson kayaker, is opening
a Malaria Clinic here at the put-in for the Nile
River. When I was surfing the Nile Special wave today
all the children were gathered around me wanting to
see how the video camera worked. One small boy was
sweating and then wrapping his arms around himself.
Wondering if this boy had the fever as the urge once
again came over me to shut my eyes. I wonder if we,
meaning my culture, do not focus on the Malaria
epidemic because we have a cure for it and we can
afford the treatment unlike Aids/HIV. The latter gets
our financial support because it is a threat to our
wellbeing and this threat drives our support, not our
good will to help the people of Uganda.

The reality is so harsh here it is hard to write about
how awesome the kayaking has been. We say “eat,
sleep, Kayak, repeat. The waves are similar to Chair
Creek at 40K on the Salmon River. There are really
big haystacks in all directions. The Hairy Lemon is
just downstream form the Nile Special surf wave. It
takes about ten minutes to paddle up to the wave, a
perfect warm up before dropping in for your first surf
in the morning. Each evening Red Tail Monkeys jump
and swing from the trees outside of the cabin.

Upon arrival here there was a large yellow snake
climbing on the fence next to the main cabin. He was
soon decapitated with a machete. Jeremy Laucks,
another American here, turned to me and said, “I am
staying a month?” After our first surf session he
said, “I am staying a month, it will be long, but the
surf will be great!”

Erin and Robin run the Hairy Lemon while trying to
keep their three year old boy, Austin, away from the
snakes but allowing him to still make decisions. He
swims a lot and plays with his sandbox. Most of the
crocodiles were killed during the Idi Amin decimation
of the people and the wildlife. The main eating area
has boards about three feet tall. I am not sure if
this is to keep him in or the snakes out.

We celebrated New Years Eve with drinking games ( Rob
was kind enough to bring me shots of water under the
cover of Vodka) as everyone was buying rounds for the
house. We had kayakers from Russian, USA, English,
Whales, Finland, Canada, and Australia. We awoke at
6am to early morning surf.

Uganda is amazing in every way. I wish I was
enlightened enough to know what to think.

End of the Week-
My back stabs are bigger than my front blunts and
today I had the best surf session yet. The Hairy
Lemon is the first all-inclusive resort I have been
to. This all-inclusive package comes with ferry
crossings, three meals a day, bunk room, mosquito
netting, cricket, and unlimited armbands for the
whitewater park. The resort fees include Nile Special
beer, battery charging for cameras, laptops, and cell
phones from the solar panel, and potable water.

Ester is the daughter of one of the workers here. She
is ten and speaks proper English but is shy to speak
it. Today I taught her how to multiply the 9s on her
fingers. Her smile made me happy and sad at the same

My great friend from home, Megan, will be here to surf
with me in a few days and the Jackson Team in a couple
weeks. I cannot wait for all of them to arrive.

Devon Barker




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