Swiftwater Rescue Classes in Ecuador

I just got back from teaching three Swiftwater Rescue courses Landmark Learning's partner in Ecuador, Mingai.  Many thanks to Mingai director Felipe Jacome for putting these courses together and to instructor Alex Dent for helping me teach!

The courses were conducted in Spanish near the towns of Banos and Tena. The first Level 4 course in Banos was held on the Rio Zunag in the community of Rio Negro.  We appreciate local kayaker "Lucho" - his mother let us use her open air restaurant as a classroom space.  Awesome lunches, too!

We had 12 students who braved the cold waters of the Andes.  Most were local raft guides on the Rio Pastaza. The second Level 4 course was held in Tena where we enjoyed MUCH warmer water.  We used the Rio Tena as well as the Upper Mishaulli, a classic Class III-IV kayak run.  Tena considerably lower than Banos with much more of a jungle-like climate.  The Tena course had a combination of raft guides as well as "bomberos" or fire-fighthers.  We taught the course at the popular island park where we were accompanied by squirrel monkeys (don't drop any food!).  

The last course was a one-day Level 5 Advanced course open to students who had already taken a Level 4 course.  We had a good mix of students who took their Level 4s this year as well as some returning students from 2 and 4 years ago.  It was great to see some old and familiar faces!  The Level 5 took place entirely on the Upper Mishualli near Archidona.  We took 2 rafts and 4 kayaks down a short section of the river and worked on application and integration of skills in addition to learning some more advanced techniques.  I was really happy to be back in a kayak after 4 days of swimming!

I had an awesome time and was excited to have the opportunity to teach in Spanish again.  I really appreciate my students not making TOO much fun of my accent!  Thanks again everybody for a great trip.  I was glad to make some new friends and to get the opportunity to return to Ecuador.

-Rob Barham