Sunday, March 28, 2010

WCKA in Chile: Life Abroad

When I first told my friends that I was going to the World Class Kayak Academy they didn’t know if I was attending high school, or just going on an extended kayaking vacation. At the time I didn’t know how to explain World Class to them, but now after two months of traveling, kayaking, and studying throughout Chile I know what it’s all about...
On a typical day we wake up at 8:00 A.M. to begin our morning workout. After either an hour of strength building or a competitive game of ultimate Frisbee we all meet for a breakfast prepared by our Chilean chef Israel. With breakfast and coffee digested we continue on to classes, and depending on the day either have five hour-long classes or three ninety minute classes. After lunch and with school out of the way we hit the water. What river or section of river we paddle depends on where we’re staying, but throughout the trip we hucked the waterfalls of the Palguin and Fuy, surfed the big waves of the Maipo and Futaleufu, and even navigated our way through the massive class V rapids of Inferno Canyon. Back from paddling we lay out our gear to dry and meet together at the dinner table. Over dinner we discuss events from day and plans for the upcoming ones. Then, following dinner, we finish what homework we still have, hang out for a while, and catch some shut-eye.

A typical scene at World ClassGovernment ClassLunch straight from the river
Huddling before getting on the water
Warming up in the flats

The majority of our time in Chile was spent living at campgrounds, but occasionally we’d bunk down for a night or two at a hostel. On days that we didn’t have school we’d either be paddling all day, exploring the cities and countrysides, or traveling between locations. Days off from school were always relaxing, but long consecutive days of traveling in our stuffy 17 passenger van could become somewhat stressful.

Loading up the van for a travel day
Broken Drive Shaft... this happened 5 times
One of many quick-fixes to our fail prone trailer
The ferry to Argentina

Though there was lots to get done each day we managed to find plenty of time to hang out, kick back and relax, and enjoy the culture surrounding us. Whether we were playing hacky sack between classes, rocking the discotecs into the wee hours of the night, or just shootin the shit around the campfire there was never a dull moment in Chile.
Here are some of my favorite photos from Chile (many documenting what we did when we weren't on the water)...

Kayak Pucon Headquarters
Stretching our legs after too many hours in the van
Risto Beatty on the Maipo
Luis our noble bus driver
Scouting a class V in Inferno Canyon
The Men of the Maipo
South American Sunsets
Another Chilean Asado
Bariloche, Argentina
Race Day at the Futa Fest 

Photos by Jason Cohen, Eric Parker and Ben Kinsella


Eric Parker said...

Sick update dude. That was one hell of a trip. Can't wait to back...

Craig D. Irwin said...

Great looking trip! Good on ya for paddling Chile and respecting the culture. Bet you learned a lot there and in between. Right on with your post!