Saturday, January 27, 2007


Ok, so it´s almost the end of January, and I´m just now getting around to posting about our first trip of 2007, but better late than never!

Our first trip of 2007 was actually two trips at once, so the lodge was full of boaters and excitement. Although we paddled different rivers, we mostly traveled together and had a styling caravan of boats driving around Ecuador.

We had one group of paddlers from Colorado and Texas and they spent the week paddling with Jason and Larry. The biggest surf of the week award goes hands down to George from Salida who had a very long and impressive tango with a rapid we call “Gringos Revueltos” (that’s scrambled gringos to all us English speakers).
Over the week the crew paddled a few different sections of the Quijos River (having the pleasure of doing a run that started at our riverside lodge, and a run that ended at our lodge). They also paddled the Upper Misahualli and the Jatunyacu rivers getting in a great mixture of creeking and bigger water runs.

The Texans brought along one of their non-paddling buddies and he was able to split his time in Ecuador between learning how to kayak and shredding along with the kayakers (after all learning to roll in a pool and paddling class I and II can leave a little to be desired in terms of adrenaline, so the shredder helped out with that).

Besides enjoying the excellent bird life and whitewater of Ecuador, the Colorado/Texas crew also enjoyed Lili and Bolivia’s excellent cooking at Cabanas Tres Rios, and many of them took advantage of the fact that Lili is also a registered massage therapist.
Hopefully this week of excellent whitewater will hold them over for the last few months of winter until the rivers around Colorado start flowing again.

Our 2nd group of paddlers was a group of friends from Colorado, Washington, and North Carolina. They were an odd mixture of fellows, but you pretty much couldn’t help but laugh whenever they started talking. This crew hit the Quijos, Misahualli, Cosanga, and Oyacachi. They decided that they were up for a bit of sweating and suffering in the jungle so we decided to do the Lower Misahualli. It is an outstanding big water play run in the middle of the jungle; the only trouble is there is a fairly obnoxious portage in the middle of the run. With a little trial and error we figured out a great system for lining our kayaks down the rapid and so got to do the slog through the jungle empty handed.

Although we kind of feel like we cheated them out of their full allotment of suffering, hiking the portage trail empty handed is a heck of a lot nicer than lining 7 kayaks up and down cliffs through slippery Amazonian mud. Our reward of running Land of the Giants afterward was sweet nonetheless.

Other than that, we did a little creeking and discovered some great new play waves on the Quijos River. There are 3 new play waves on the Bom Bon section this year. Ranging from a somewhat thumpy breaking wave/hole to a beautiful breaking wave that is perfect for blunting, these waves offer something for everyone. George (George #2 from North Carolina) got the best blunts of the week, and we were all grinning ear to ear after one last play session before heading back to Quito.

Monday, January 22, 2007


SWA rung in the New Year with a great class III/IV trip. From December 30th, 2006 to Jan. 6th 2007 this lucky group got to paddle 2 years in a row in Ecuador. This crew from Oregon and Germany had great water levels and were able to get on some of the classic class III and IV runs in Ecuador.

With a combination of surfing big waves and running tight, technical creeks, they had both a great end to 2006, and a great beginning to 2007.

They also had the opportunity to be a part of a unique Ecuadorian New Year celebration—burning the muneca. A muneca is literally a doll or a mannequin, but on New Year’s Eve it takes on special meaning.

Each group of friends builds their own life size muneca to the likeness of something or someone they want to see go with the old year. In our time down here, we have seen everything from a smoking muneca for someone who wants to quit, to George W. Bush (I guess they wanted him to quit).

Then, as the New Year’s celebrations heat up, people light their munecas on fire, to burn down the old and the unwanted and bring in a new year full of promise. This year the SWA crew built a mannequin of a kayaker, an old school kayaker. The crew stood in the driveway of our lodge as the old schooler left with 2006. I’m not sure how rad or new school any of us were the next day, but we all did go kayaking, and, really, is there any better way to start a new year?