KAYAKING IN ECUADOR–now this is a hell of a thing to do for the New Year!

I think on a certain level, every kayaker aspires to paddling MORE next year. Whether that means 10 days instead of 5 or 300 days instead of 250, it’s an admirable New Year’s resolution. This year, we had a very smart group of people who joined our New Year’s trip, and therefore got a headstart on the paddle more next year goal. They all got to paddle on the last day of 2007 AND the 1st day of 2008. I can’t think of a better way to start of a New Year than with a little bit of tropical paddling in Ecuador. What the? Remeber this little guy, he came to play an important role in our New Year’s celebration…

We had lots of fun both on and off the water. Here is a little preview of the week’s events. To start us off, we have Nick at the crux of “Random Acts” on the Cosanga River. Jordan at the bottom of “Triple Drop” on the Lower Cosanga.

Jon sailing through the hole at the bottom of “Random Acts.”

Happy paddlers making their way through the last rapid before Small World’s lodge ( The Cosanga is the perfect run, because after a couple hours of creeking you hit the confluence with the Quijos for a short bigger water paddle straight to Small World’s front lawn. From the confluence, it’s about 1 hour’s paddle to our lodge, where it’s just a short walk to hot showers and great food prepared by our chef Lili. Dinner this night was EXTRA special–for the New Year and all. Here is the crew enjoying lentil soup–one of Lili’s many excellent receipes. Sharon and Jordan provided the life of the New Year’s dinner! Way to be festive you two.

Bill Beveridge admiring Lili’s decorative food presentation. That is an orange with little toothpicks of fine cheese sticking out of it. The important thing is that everyone is smiling…it’s hard to beat a good day of paddling followed by outstanding food and great company. Nick and Katie got into the spirit too. This is just before 9am (Small World’s designated New Year hour). These two are preparing to head outside and enjoy one of Ecuador’s very unique traditions–the burning of the New Year’s muneca. They’ve got their special sunglasses to cut down on the blaze of the fire.

Ah, the little muneca looks so happy in his Z…Little does he know what awaits him. (don’t worry, we let our guests paddle much better boats than our munecas).

Oh Larry, don’t do it!

Every good Muneca has eventually got to go down in flames…I do miss the little guy though. You can tell he is a snowboarder–look at that grab! It just wouldn’t be a proper fire if no one jumped over it.

Some of the brave (and less tired) people ventured up the hill to Borja and actually stayed up til midnight to bring in the New Year. Looks like it was a happening party up there.

And the best part about it, was that we all got to go paddling the next day! Michelle and the Jefe Chico cruising down the Piatua.

Jennifer getting a nice boof on “Discotec” rapid on the Piatua.

Holy Old Skool! Nice work Jon, I didn’t know you could do that in a Jefe Grande. Nick and Chris are watching and learning.

While Chris wasn’t representing old-skool-style, he did pull off some sweet cartwheels. Who says you can’t throw down rodeo-style while you are creeking? Jon and Don amongst the Piatua’s giant granite boulders.

Jon having lots of fun at “Slots of Fun.” Sorry, I know that’s a really dorky caption.

Some local kids having lots of fun too. I’m sure they’re making fun of the kayakers wearing so much protective gear to go down a river that they inner tube in their underwear on a regular basis!

Bill Beveridge on one of the many boofs of the Upper Mis.

Larry and crew washing off in the crystal clear waters of the Lower Jondachi after a muddy hike in.

Katie enjoying some of her hard-earned whitewater. After about a 30 minute hike in, Larry and the Ladies (Katie, Sharon, and Hillary) were rewarded with great whitewater.
And great scenery too. Sharon and Katie frolicking in one of the many waterfalls of the Lower Jondachi.

Katie surfing it up!
Larry scouting…talking about the “sweet line.”

Guides Larry and Hillary strategizing over lunch. I think they are really just debating what kind of pizza to order after boating…
Besides having awesome whitewater, friendly people, and amazing scenery, Ecuador has cool critters too! These little guys are my personal favorites. They are “tamarind marmosets” but most people just call them Chi Chi.

Hillary took this photo–I’m not sure why he is sticking his tongue out at her? Maybe he was tired of having his meal interupted by curious photographers.

And there are monkeys too.

And for all you Princess Bride fans, ROUS (rodents of unusual size). AKA Capybara, which is the world’s largest rodent.
The butterflies are often attracted to kayakers with their brightly colored equipment.

Ok, enough wildlife, back to kayaking…Sharon running “Bobsled” on the Upper Mis.
Ok, enough whitewater, here is some landscaping. Nick got this panoramic shot of the lodge. Those are the kayaker cabins in the foreground and the community area/dinning room in the far right corner.

Uh, back to the whitewater…who organized this blog? Nick boofing “the boof” on the Oyacachi. We gotta come up with a better name for that one. Nick, I love your “ejector seat” rapid name, so if you’ve got any suggestions for this one, let me know.

Andrew weaving his way through one of the many boulder garden drops here in Ecuador. Michelle never told us the story behind this bandana, she just demanded us to take a picture with her and the bandana…We’re all still wondering, so if you read this Michelle, post a comment and fill us in. Either way, it’s a nice shot on the banks of the Oyacachi river.

Nick, Jon, and Darcy having a competition to see who can carry the most mud into the Upper Jondachi.
Katie and Michelle enjoying Small World’s riverside yoga studio. But that doesn’t quite look like yoga girls! And we see those Pilsiners hiding by your chairs.

Sharon and Jordon getting in the Ecuadorian New Year spirit. Vendors all over the place start selling various masks for people to put on their munecas to burn on New Year’s Eve. Jordon had quite a collection of masks by the time he got to our lodge. Sharon, you make a particularly good Fidel:)

Thanks to Nick and Katie for being kind enough to share their photos for this blog!
Thanks to everyone on the trip for making our transition into 2008 a great one! It was fun paddling with everyone here in Ecuador, and hopefully we’ll catch up with you on your local runs next summer.
Here’s a toast to Small World’s new guides–you both did an outstanding job! Even though you drink fruffy drinks, we still love having you around. Have fun on your travels, and can’t wait to boat with you in WA.

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