Jan 25, 2009

Adventure Anew

I'm not sure how I feel about leaving. I really enjoy the weather, people, boating options (duh). The food is great. And just the overall coolness of Ecuador makes me want to stay and keep exploring. Only so much time left and what I never saw I'll just have to see next time. I'm looking forward to something new. I've been thinking about all the snow back home. I've also been thinking about where I want to live. Decisions, decisions. Life's full of 'em.

I'm in Quito now, at The Magic Bean, a great hostal in the tourist area of town. I went with Abe and Carolina to the Papallacta Hot Springs on the way. What an awesome way to utilize a natural resource. Well done Ecuador.

On this adventure I saw the Upper Jondachi. What a world class run and a special place to see. I'll save the description. Go see it. It's worth it. I'm telling you. Come to Ecuador. It's worth it, I'm telling you. Hear are some highlights. Good times. Good people.

Also, the editor isn't working quite right. You might notice some pics are sideways. Alter your monitor for best viewing.

Local plays Sam's harmonica at the put in for the Piatua.

Jaime, Becky, and I wait for the taxi at yet another take out. sigh...

Thanks, Ecuador.

Cops take down another mouthy so-an-so... to spray stuff in his pants! Sucka, what?

Are you ready to rummmmblllllllllee??

More excitement in Columbia.

Look out!!

Cool stuff everywhere you are.

This is what it looks like when you're waiting for the bus.

Jeff says Ecuador will open your eyes. Wake up, fool!

Me takin' it at the hole in Birthday Cake on the Mishualli. Damn.


Papallacta Hot Springs

One of the pools at Papallacta Hot Springs. Go. Don't dilly dally.

A view from the main road.

Jan 4, 2009

Montanita is the best!

They don't have moves like this in Montanita.

The bus station is a funny place. The buses are all run by private companies, so there are MANY 'salesman' walking the terminal shouting out the different names of cities. If you even think about looking at their schedule they make a B-line to you and start the hard sell. It's entertaining until you tell them where you're going, because they stand in front of you, look you dead in the eye and start repeating your destination over and over and over. If you leave they follow you. Then, looking back on it it's funny again. Good times.
We went to Cuenca for Christmas and Montanita for New Year's. Cuenca was fun. It is the third largest city in Ecuador and rather colonial. It's fun to walk around and look at the old buildings. Jeff, Sam, and Oli got reindeer hats, and I got a santa hat. Then we took lots of pictures with the locals. After Christmas we hopped a bus to Guayaquil, then to the coast.

The bus ride to Guayaquil was terrifying. We had one of the craziest bus drivers EVER. I think the trip took four hours and we were packed to the gills. The entire aisle from front to back was full of people and things. Becky and I were in the front seat with a bunch of leg room at the station. Mistake. When the bus loaded up we found ourselves with an indiginous mother and her three small children sitting in our 'leg room'. With all of those people on the bus the driver would scream through the turns as fast as he possibly could. We were all sitting up front so it was easy to bang on the window at him. He eventually slowed down, but for awhile there I was not in my happy place. The turns were so fast he would "lean in" as we made the turn. We were high in the mountains and in places (many places) there were no guard rails, just the edge of the cliff that fell away 2000 feet. Yikes! After telling the guy numerous times to chill, me and Team Yukon were ready to knock the dude out and throw him off the bus. People were literally crying behind us. He chilled. Thankfully. Only so many turns an overloaded bus can take before an axle breaks or a wheel comes off. Oh yeah, and halfway through the trip we pulled over so the driver could tighten something up under the bus. We were pulled over for maybe ten minutes. I bet he was just adjusting the suspension's toe and camber to 'race' mode.

Once we arrived in Monanita I think we all realized just how much fun it was going to be. All the roads in Montanita are sand. People drive on them, but why? The physical size of the town isn't even the size of Index, WA. There are three or four streets in town, but the whole place is set up to party. There are many hostels and good places to eat. You might wind up spending 5 or 6 bucks for breakfast. A bit more than Tena, but the food is so good here. I had one of the best hamburgers here with some ham, an egg and a lot of mayo. Watch out for the mayo it goes bad fast and they don't refridgerate. We were in Montanita for a week and I didn't think it would happen this way, but we were all a little glad to move on. That said, Montanita is someplace you have to go. Come to Ecuador for the boating, but hit Montanita at New Year's for the best party of your life. Take a look...

Dancing in Montanita is fun.

Jeff talks with Francine, one of the many Germans in town.

You make lots of friends in Monanita. It's fun here.

And when you run out of your own cool dance moves your friends teach you new ones.

Sam and Olivier like dancing and making friends.

Here's to good friends, tonight is kinda special.

This is our hostal, Los Palmeras.

Along the way.

Apparently all the churches have these spotlights. Five different colors.

Jeff gives his bottle of cheap booze to the bartender to throw around all crazy like.

If Hollywood ever remade the movie Cocktail, this guy would be a shoe-in.

I bet the bus driver just didn't realize there weren't any guard rails.

Sam had to pee REAL bad. So, he went to the back of the bus with a water bottle.

Whoopsie. Sam didn't realize the road was bumpy and that we had a crazy driver.
Or maybe the driver just wouldn't stop. Sam's a good sport, he let us take his picture!

Dec 17, 2008

Dec 17 Highlights since the Quijos

The thunder was so loud today it was setting off car alarms. Since the Quijos we've covered a lot of ground. Hiking in and out can wear on you! We finally have semi-reliable internet, and semi-reliable hot water. The weather here is pretty amazing especially by PNW standards. I could do with a few less sand flies, but even they seem to be waning off, at least the bites. I'm in a groove now down here. I think we all are. I speak better Spanish than I did when I got here, but my level of comprehension has room for improvement. The thunder is still awesome. It reminds me of the thunderstorms in Indiana during the summer. It was so loud there it would rattle the windows. A fresh group of boaters arrive about every week or so, and I'm remembering the runs more now, which is nice. Here are some highlights of things we’ve done, seen, bought, swam or thoroughly enjoyed since leaving the beautiful Quijos valley.

The first drop on the bamboo strtech of the Misualli. This was the first day I ran it.

The next day I was in the playboat and things didn't go so smoothly.

I blew the lead in and was too far right. Fighting to get back to the left side (which didn't work) I wound up dropping over this ledge on the right, dead sideways. Damn. The hole is backed up and boils back from 6 or 7 feet downstream. Double shoot. I started rodeoing and it didn't take long before I was upside down. The water was aerated too which didn't help for rolling. I wound up on my back deck at one point and just started paddling downstream out of the hole upside down. I think it was working, but I didn't wait long enough before I rolled and got sucked right back in.

Shee-yute! Hadn't had air in a while and gave rolling a couple more tries, then I pulled. Immediately I got sucked down and held in this little pocket that wasn't really moving anywhere, just kind of stopped between the pourover coming in and the upstream backwash meeting it. I managed to get to the surface for a second, got some air and a bit of water, then went back down again. By this time I'm wondering how this was going to play out. Team Yukon is on either side of the river and the river isn't very wide there. I'm wondering where the rope is, but I'm also wondering how this is gonna play out! I get a little push and try swimming into the green water coming in, I go down a ways and wind up surfacing about three feet from the pourover. I barely get a breath as I see Jeff (one half of Team Yukon) standing on shore in the 'ready' position. Right before I get sucked down again I yell at him, "C'MOOONN!" I want a rope! Then I'm under again. Soon enough I feel the rope and he pulls me out.

Sheeeeee-yute!! It takes a couple minutes for me to catch my breath and about 15 for us to get a line on the boat and pull it out. If you've ever run the Top Tye in WA it's a mini version of the hole in Paranoia, except the water doesn't seem to be flushing. The rest of the trip went pretty well, I led most of the way.

There are a few other groups of boaters in Tena and we all see each other about every day. I talked to one group later that night and said, "Dude, I swam today." He said, "I heard." I thought, who told you? I just got off the river 15 minutes ago. He then said,"I also heard you styled the rest of the run. You're the man! Except for that one drop." Snicker. On top of it, it was my birthday and that drop was the first of about a 15 mile stretch. The birthday tradition down here is to get whipped with a belt or switch for each year. I got my spanking from the river early. Humble pie for dessert.

Capt Fun keeps it real... fun

That's no playhole. Whatch out Capt Fun! That's El Toro at a stupid high level.

The ladies at the fiesta were great.
I don't know why they wore all black though.
Seems a bit too warm.

Jenny, Marco, and Chad love driving in the van to Tena!

Chris made a friend at the restaurant, Dona Cleo's.

The storms are beautiful, loud, and make the rivers go!

Sam likes it when kayaks go BOOF

One of the boofs on the El Reten section of the Misualli. Good stuff!

Can you find the small kayaker in Land of Giants? Lower Misualli at high water

This is the portage just above Land of Giants. LOG starts just out of frame.

Portage. Gynner and Chris look and talk about it.

The only beach on the Lower Mis.

I got a guitar

Some very cute kids at the putin for the Lower Mis.