A TRIBUTE TO LARRY VERMEEREN–FOUNDER OF SMALL WORLD ADVENTURES–AND SOMEONE WHO PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN SHAPING KAYAKING IN ECUADOR AS WE KNOW IT TODAY.
Don’t worry, he is still alive and well, but I thought, what the hell, why not immortalize the living?
Thanks Larry for having the vision, the perseverance, and motivation to build this kick ass kayakers’ lodge (supported by a very kick ass kayaking scene), so that we are lacking in nothing while kayaking in Ecuador. You had the guts to try something new when there were no kayakers in the Quijos Valley, and I admire that. You had no example to follow, yet, with just your dream, a little cash, and some inspiration, you turned a swampy cow field into Cabanas Tres Rios and, I think I can speak for all of Small World’s kayakers when I say, we are forever grateful to you for following through with your dream.
Today, Ecuador has become a fairly popular kayaking destination; but this wasn’t always the case. Not many people know much about the “history of paddling in Ecuador,” and, since Larry Vermeeren was such a big part of it, I wanted to pay him a little homage.
True, when Larry first came to Ecuador there were a couple kayakers paddling the rivers of this small country. But, when I say “a couple,” I literally mean 2. The paddling scene in Ecuador was much different back then–I’d even go so far as to say it was non-existent. The now booming rafting industry was just in its burgeoning stages, and hardly anyone in the world thought of Ecuador as the whitewater Mecca that many consider it to be today. When Larry started Small World Adventures, he, and his sport, were a true anomaly here in Ecuador.
Larry found his personal El Dorado when he visited the Quijos Valley for the first time–although it was an unlikely treasure. The roads were all dirt and in a constant state of disrepair. Borja had no hotels and barely 1 restaurant. In short, there just wasn’t much going on besides the oil pipeline activity, and the dairy farmers who had colonized the land after the road connecting Quito to the oil fields was completed.
But, Larry had an idea…and, luckily for us, he also had the wherewithal to see his idea through.
6 years later, Larry was the proud owner of Cabanas Tres Rios. His goal from the outset was to create a welcoming and comfortable place for kayakers who were visiting Ecuador to stay. He knows that “roughing” it while paddling can be fun, but let’s be honest, living large while paddling is a hell of a lot more fun! Now, thanks to LV and CTR, living large while kayaking is very possible in the Quijos Valley. Thanks to Larry, Small World guests now enjoy clean, comfortable rooms to sleep in each night, hot showers after kayaking, gourmet meals to keep the energy up while paddling, a huge fleet of kayaks to choose from, an onsite massage therapist, a yoga studio, and many, many more amenities.
He was a man with a dream, and he done good. Now, all us kayakers are reaping the benefits, and we just don’t know how lucky we are.