Well, I’ve been exceptionally lazy about taking pictures and putting up blog posts over the past week. Once I discovered that my cell phone works perfectly from down here, it became too easy to lay on my bed in the afternoon and touch base with home that way. And once I lay down in the afternoons, I’m not inclined to get up again until Happy Hour. I don’t think I’ve paddled two days in a row since the summer Andrew was born (four and a half years ago), and I’m going on a week and a half straight right now. I’m exhausted.
The frustrating thing about the last week has been the way my roll went from bomber to speculative to—almost as if someone flipped a switch—nonexistant. Evidently, I’ve gotten away with bad technique for years, using too much arm strength and thinking about the hip snap as something I do with my right knee instead of with my entire torso. ExChile’s owner, Chris Spelius, tells me my case is far from unique, that getting by with a makeshift roll is like walking on thin ice—while it holds, it holds, and when it goes, you fall in all the way. After only a couple of days in Chile, my arms and shoulders were too sore for my old roll to work well, and my body kept compensating in exactly the wrong way. Chris also says it’s almost easier to teach a beginner how to roll than it is to break an experienced boater’s bad habits, and I’m inclined to agree.
The upshot is that I haven’t been able to paddle the big stuff down here as I had hoped, but I should come home with a better foundation for my next ten years of paddling. Even if I’m not screaming down Infierno Canyon after two weeks in Chile, I’m still coming home with thirteen days on the water, more than three times as many paddling days as I got in all of 2008. And Patagonia has been flat-out awesome—what a magical place.
The Rio Azul, one of my favorite runs down here. In boating terms it’s like a more technical (and much colder) version of the Middle Tellico.
I’ve done more than just kayak; on my “rest days” I’ve been able to raft some of the Futa’s bigger water, and I also spent a glorious afternoon “canyoning,” descending a crystalline mountain stream through a narrow granite slot, rappelling seven waterfalls and jumping off/sliding down a number of smaller cascades on the way. And then, as if I’m not beat up enough, last night I joined in a pick-up soccer game with some of the ExChile guides, local staff, and guests.
I’ve got lots more to say about the local culture and my ExChile experience, but tomorrow it’s back to the Macal section of the Futa, and I desperately need some rest. I am too tired to type any more.