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?

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