It’s Beginning To Not Feel A Lot Like Christmas…

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Lunch break on the lower Jondachi, December 28th.

Our first trip of the 2010/2011 Ecuador season kicked off with a trip that could be summed up as the Boys’ Trip, plus Mary.

Mark A. returned to Ecuador after an 8 year hiatus with 4 of his good paddling buds from Portland. Also returning was Arn S. from Seattle. Allen R. took a break from his PhD studies at Stanford, and Joe Brief ventured forth from Florida.

Mike B. soaking up the scenery.

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Chris D. celebrates a birthday far from the maddening crowds.

Water levels allowed us to get on all the classic runs; the Jondachi/Hollin, the Mis, several stretches of the Quijos, the Cosanga and the Piatua. We toasted the holiday season (and a birthday) with the coldest, post-paddling Pilseners in Ecuador, just one degree above ice crystals. What can be better after boating a remote, tropical, technical new river?

The end of the trip corresponded with celebrating the New Year Ecuador-style. The custom here is to make a lifesize, sawdust effigy dressed as a politician or relative. People poke fun at their doctor, mechanic, boss – anyone who caused problems during the year!

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Don't like your mechaninc? Run him over! (Errr, the effigy that is.)

Treatises are posted with elaboration on poor decision-making, bad habits, injuries or illnesses.  The “muñeco” might be situated on the front porch, at a bus stop, or even tied to the grill of a vehicle. Right before midnight on the 31st, “El Viejo” is burned, resulting in a fresh slate for the New Year.

We were in Quito for the 31st, and got to experience another tradition. The main tourist avenue was turned into a walking street with pageants and programs at every corner. Thousands of families crowded the streets, inching their way along, some wearing masks, hats and costumes.

New Year's_ Quito_crowd_families.At 8pm, Disney-quality fireworks filled the skies for the better part of an hour. And then everyone went home to feast and burn their Viejo.

At 13,400 ft at the base of Antisana on the pass back to Quito, Collin and Chris A. bid farewell to the old year and a great week of boating.

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