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.
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!
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.
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