There is nothing like full immersion when you embark on an international paddling tripsometimes immersion referring to the culture, sometimes to your time on/in the river. Take this week for example: we are about to embark with a group of paddlers who have immersed themselves in ERA trips for seventeen years. Putting everyones ERA experiences in one pot, we come up with a combined total of 79 ERA international trips with this gang. So pull out the stops: this next week is going to be a great one! Problem–with no newbies in the group, we have no good guide jokes/stories we can pull out and use on these guys!
But not to get ahead here, immersion is not just about how many international trips you do with us .but the experiences you have on a trip with us.
Take last weeks group (actually two groups). There was no shyness with these guys about jumping head into everything about Ecuador. On day #1 they learned a lot of Spanish–or at least the key Spanish words: church/iglesia, beer/cerveza, bathroom/bano, river/rio, and how to order eggs scrambled/revueltos. Revueltos was probably the most important phrase of the week because of this groups willingness to embrace the word.
Out of six awesome days of paddling the Quijos, Cosanga, Jatunyacu, and one of our favorites: The Upper Miss….
we would have to agree that the trip was best defined on day #2 of paddling on the lower Quijos.
On the Lower Quijos you have a huge rapid named Gringos Revueltos; aka: scrambled gringosand yea, you are already starting to catch on.
Now take a group of friends who paddle rivers like the Upper Yough together all the time. With this group, friends stick together. Almost making the boys look bad, Stacey saddled up and ran gringos revueltos first. But forget just a boring line. Stacey looked down at the big hole that runs three-quarters of the way across the river and shouted revueltos me! Okay, maybe that was not really what she shoutedthe exact words might be unprintable here. But she let er buck in the hole. At this point, what could the boys do but at least try and match her run?!? Doug backed off at the last minute (maybe because Stacey was still in the hole?). But then Dave AND Todd thought that a tandem surf might one-up Staceys ride. Sam wanted to join in the fun, but the no vacancy sign went up on his approach so he had to do a last-minute dash to the left of the surfing duo. As soon as the vacancy sign lit up again, Alex joined in the fun. Photos sure would be great right now, but unfortunately I was way too busy backing up the group as they flushed out of the hole (and yahooing this bold group that dared to take no prisoners).
That left our second group of boaters up on shore taking photos/scouting while all this went on. Knowing there was no more surf left in the hole, they opted for running the traditional line through the rapid. And calling it a good day for just having been there to document revueltos at its best!!
There was never a dull moment during our week of full immersion. That included time out at our jungle lodge playing with the monkeys. Sam and Lucas-the-troublemaker became fast friends as soon as we arrived and Lucas had eyes for no one but Sam after that.
As if the river time was not enough, Dawn spoiled us all with treats of peanut butter, twiks and snickers. It was a veritable treasure chest of Dawn surprises all week.
Dawn and Brent also shared in our community project by loading up a whole suitcase full of backpacks. We retraced our steps back to one of the two bi-lingual schools (the two languages being quichua and Spanish) alongside the Jatunyacu to bring them more supplies and the Davis backpacks. The whole school (all twenty eight students) gave a rousing applause to the kayakers who took time out of a paddling day to help out a school with so little.
And as if the week was not full-on fun in itself, we of course stopped at the hot springs/water slide on the way back to Quito. We had to wait until the last day: if the group had experienced the water slide on the way over the pass they probably would never have left! And while tandem surfing was left behind at gringos revueltos, tandem sliding was tested out on the sllde and met with huge success!
And with two groups paddling this trip, photos were not as easy to take as normal, but those we have are here to share with you. Enjoy!
It is time to gather up our paddling gear for one last trip over the mountain for the year. Last tripwow, hard to believe. But hang in there, I bet we will have some great stories from this week with our friends paddling here in Ecuador.