We have not stopped moving since we landed in Ecuador on Thanksgiving day. With just one day in Quito to get settled, and our first trip beginning the following week, we headed to the oriente (the area east of the Andes) and the town of Borja, our base of operations for our trips down here.
We’ve consolidated our relationship with La Campiñia, a new and wonderful lodge in the Rio Quijos valley. We had a bodega (storage) built on the premises. Now all of our boats and river related equipment are right here when we pull in with with our groups. This Ecuadorian owned and operated lodge features beautiful grounds with spectacular views of the surrounding valley. It is also within easy walking distance of the town of Borja, allowing folks a chance to wander the streets and stretch their legs at the end of a day of paddling.
For those of you that have been with us in Ecuador before and are familiar with Leonardo, Carmen, Enrique, and Carmencita of the Roman family and the wonderful times we had staying with them on their farm over the years, don’t worry. They are just a kilometer down the road and love to have old friends stop in. Leonardo has retired as manager of the bank in Baeza and is working hard on their dairy and tomato business (that family knows no other way). Carmencita and Carmen have started a catering business and are getting great reviews. (Carmencita graduated from culinary school last year.) Expect to see some of her treats on our trips this year. This wonderful family has become a big part of our Ecuadorian lives. When we’re not working a trip, you will often find us at their home sharing a laugh, eating great food, and picking tomatoes! Leonardo likes to joke that he is the only farm in the valley with a gringo work force.
Prior to our first trip, we put in some long, yet wonderful days paddling as many runs as we could fit in. As mentioned in the previous post, we do this every year in order to become current with changes on the runs. Wouldn’t look good to lead folks down the left when the run is now on the right!
Phil got in a solo run on the lower Jondachi/HollÍn. This beautiful run was first brought to our attention by Matt Terry of Ecuadorian Rivers Institute. We began running trips on it in 2006. The run starts with a 40 minute hike to the put-in using porters. Phil’s sexagenarian porter took off down the muddy trail like a rabbit, leaving Phil guilt-free that he wasn’t carrying his own boat! The Lower Jondachi is a straight forward, semi-technical Class 3+ run that confluences with the larger volume Hollín. The whole run is remote and stunningly beautiful. We take every group we can on this river.
Phil also joined ex-pat NOC instructor, Dan Dixon (who makes his home in Tena) and Ricardo, an Ecuadorian from Santo Domingo and a fine paddler in his own right, on a run down the class IV+/V- Rio Piatua. What a gem for the advanced boater!!
With our scouting runs behind us and logistics and lodging confirmed, we returned to Quito for last minute preparations and to meet our first group arriving on December 1st.
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