Day 29

Today must have been a great way to wind-down the trip. Matt was always very competitive, as I am sure all of the guys are, so for him this would have been great fun.

I do remember him talking about this evening meal quite clearly – as always food was a high priority for Matt! From what I could gather this was a meal that had been anticipated for quite a while. However, during the course of the month he had certainly lost quite a lot of weight and his stomach would have shrunk accordingly. Imagine Matt’s chagrin then at being faced with a huge, delicious fish that he could barely finish!!

Day 29 – 13th August

“This morning I again stuffed myself at the buffet breakfast before packing all my kit ready for tomorrow. At the very beginning of our trip we each filled in a ‘before’ self-evaluation form, and today we went through it again with Craig and filled in an ‘after’ form. Craig also wrote a final report on our achievement and progress during the trip. The plan then was for everyone to go to lunch at the cafe we found yesterday, but a breakdown of communications led half of the team to go to the pizzeria while Chris, Gavan and I went to the cafe. Enjoying the peace for a change, we ordered lunch. I also bought one of the caramel coffees which I was eyeing up yesterday and it was everything I wanted it to be. As we were finishing, Craig and Andy strolled by and mentioned that the others hadn’t got a clue where we were, so we headed back.

Upon arrival back at the hotel, we were instructed to dress sportily and meet on the beach for half 3 to compete in what soon became known as the “Queen Mary’s World Challenge Beach Paralympics 2013”. Intended as a bit of fun for something to do, the competition soon evolved into a brutal contest between the two teams. I was on Gavan’s team (Gav, me, Sam, Callum, Josh) against Chris’ team (Chris, Adam, Matt H, Simran).

The first event was a wheelbarrow race for about 20 m each way, swapping at either end. Although this would normally not be too difficult, the sand made it really hard, and many struggled once past the halfway point. The first round thus went to Chris’ team who were in general lighter and fitter.

Their lead was short lived however as we claimed a strong victory in the ‘song/dance’ round with a verse and chorus of Reach for the Stars by S Club 7.

At 1 all we entered the third round: piggy-back fighting. Each team entered 4 combatants (Josh + me & Sam + Gav vs Adam + Chris & Sim + Matt H.) into the ring, and points were scored for each pair left piggybacking after both opposition pairs had been forced out or unhorsed. Our tactic was simple; gang up on Chris (usually Gav suiciding to take them both out) and then mop up the lighter Matt H. + Sim combo. Our team won a whitewash, the final blow being me pushing Simran hard to knock him clean off Matt H.’s back, landing hard in the sand.

With wounded pride, Chris’ team came back strongly to win the next round; crawling the 20 m straight using only your arms (which was absolutely grueling, dragging your limp frame for several minutes through the deep sand).

Neck and neck, we entered the 5th round: spin race. We took it in turns to hold ankles and spin full circle on the spot 10 times as fast as possible then sprint to the line and back, with hilarious consequences. Several fell or ran sideways; Adam ran diagonally into the lake and nearly got a soaking! Our team finished first, but we forgot to line up to complete the race so they snuck an extremely cheeky victory taking the competition to 3-2.

The next few events were: race whilst running like a crab in bridge position, get the lightest member of your team to the other side without carrying them or them touching the floor*, hopping race (left foot, right foot then bunny hop) and knockout throwing a brick the furthest with both hands forward between the legs, all of which we won.

With a clear lead, we entered the final event which turned out to be winner takes all. Gav and Chris were told to pick 1 person in their team to compete, and Matt H. and I were chosen. We were then blindfolded completely with clothes and gaffa tape, before being led away and spun around so we were completely disorientated. Craig asked us if we knew who was in our team and after we confirmed this he walked away and we heard no more for a little while. We then heard Andy shout ‘Go’ and suddenly everyone shouted screaming for us. I tried to block out everything except for Gavan’s voice, and I began to distinguish commands (like forward, turn left etc). Following what Gav shouted, I decided that this was some kind of gladiatorial blood sport, and listened closely for Matt H.’s footsteps. Suddenly my outstretched arm brushed his, and having already made my decision I grappled with him and wrestled him to the ground and into a pin. We then heard “Stop!”, so we both stopped and I heard me declared winner for that round before we were led of and disorientated again. The next round was similar (apart from Gav and Chris definitely leading us both into the lake as a joke), however when Matt H. and I made contact we heard “No Fighting”. Confused, I realised Gav was still giving directions, and that in fact the challenge must be to get to a certain point first. Matt H. obviously realised this slightly quicker, as he was declared victor seconds later. With all to play for, we were led back to random starting places for the final round. This time I didn’t hesitate, and trusting Gav completely ran on his instruction blindfolded through the sand, until I eventually just beat Matt H. to claim the victory for team Gavan.

Feeling pretty tired, we headed back to the hotel to try and wash some of the sand off. Tonight was the final meal and we were told that we could spend up to 50,000 UGX on a final blow out. We headed over to the cafe and sat down. We were told that we could have one and only one beer if we wanted to celebrate a good trip. I ordered a charcoal grilled locally caught fish (tilopia) and asked for a big one. We spent a good hour chatting and reminiscing about the trip, and sharing plans for when we get home.

As the food started to arrive, a light was turned on and suddenly hordes of lake flies flooded to where we were; like a living cloud it was horrendous. Some chalked it up to extra protein and carried on eating whilst others perhaps more sensibly moved out of the way to eat in peace. I personally was very content as my enormous fish turned up and I set about stripping the meat off it. As I finished the first side I was pretty full, but then I flipped it over and saw at least as much again still left, daring me to continue. I was one of the last to finish, but finish I did, and I waddled back to the hotel happy.

We played mafia for a little while before settling in for our last night in Africa.”

*We formed a moving bridge and Josh hopped along us.

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