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Waterfalls, Breakdowns and the UN

By Cassie Hayden

Foreign
Policy is a touchy subject no matter what country is involved. Now the
US has a certain flair but there are plenty of other countries that
need a little help along the lines of diplomacy.

It
would appear that no matter how many stupid reason there are to
squabble over who has the oil reserves the real questions are why
Vegemite is the poor bastardization of Marmite and why Kylie Minogue
truly was the best thing to come from Australia. For this reason we
conducted our own version of the UN for a two-week trial period. The
venue was the Mercedes van traveling at breakneck speeds to and from
various rivers while the delegates were treated to the finest steak and
the best whitewater in Chile.

The
countries that were represented were New Zealand, Britain, Australia,
United States, Chile, Canada, Texas and South Africa. Included was a
token Irishman for two days but no one could understand anything he
said so he doesn’t really count.

Why
it takes so long to cross borders in South America I will never quite
understand. The fact you have to get cleared to leave the first and
then pass the second checkpoint for the other country after passing
through no-man’s land certainly does not help. Unfortunately the days
of greased palms are a distant memory down here and they frown upon the
custom now. Shame really because it would be way more efficient.

Due
to extenuating circumstances our arrival back in Chile was somewhat
delayed. This meant an extra night in Bariloche. For those that know
this place you will understand my excitement, if not I highly encourage
you to go.

Back
in Chile the festivities started the very first night with half of the
UN counsel deciding that a pre-river lubrication session would be
advisable. It was not, and they were hurting the next morning as we
headed to the Rio San Pedro. Thankfully though the San Pedro treated us
to a mellow big water run with a great play spot to have lunch next to
and play in the whirlpools behind.

Moving
swiftly on to the next town it was time to go and negotiate the Rio
Fuy. This was the perfect setting for our international discussions as
basing out of the town of Choshuenco allowed many debates out on the
patio watching the sunsets over the lake.

Meanwhile
the kayaking continued. After a quick warm up on the Lower Fuy it was
off to the Middle/Upper Fuy. A short hike in leads to a beautiful exit
to the gorge and the put in for the section. A quick start leads
rapidly into continuous class 4 until a small building on river right
indicates the biggest drop on the run.
The rapid was a short drop with three potential slots split by a small
piece of bedrock from which to scout. Getting out proved difficult and
the middle slide slot seemed the best option. After everyone ran the
slide I probed the left slot that yielded a great banking move to punch
the hole at the bottom.
On the second run after helping the last person off the split rock I
slid backwards into the so far un-probed right slot. Sliding off
thinking “Oooops”, this was not the best, nor the worst, situation. One
or two backstrokes, as it was not wide enough to turn around, and tuck
the paddle as I go off the bottom drop expecting to get pasted into the
wall. A stroke of good fortune and all went well. The group made a few
startled faces but off downstream we went with my heart rate slowly
coming down to normal.

With
the real goal of the trip still to come we headed to the Upper Fuy and
got warmed up with some great entrance drops. Due to some wonderful
forestry work several of the drops had significant wood but high water
had cleared some routes. After several ledges and smaller rapids we
arrived at the horizon line we had been waiting for.

Las
Leonas is a clean 25 footer set in a lush sub-tropical forest. This
falls leads into some more complicated but smaller drops that culminate
in the end of the run and a 15-foot falls.

For
some this was going to be the biggest falls of their boating so far.
After nervously discussing the necessary technique, it was decided that
rolling the lip with a nice slow stroke into the tuck would be the way
to go. Helen having broken her back sledding the year before was ready
to go but did not manage to get her bow down so she landed fairly flat
in the pool. This put her out for a couple of days while her muscles
relaxed. The others all performed the tuck wonderfully with Ian
resurfacing in an amazing rocket move. After a couple of runs and many
photos a slightly smaller group of us headed downstream to finish the
run down to the 15 footer. The next rapid made the decision for a lot
of the group with a technical lead in avoiding a pin down a steep ramp
and then off a 5 ft river-wide pourover. PK and I ran without incident.

Now
please remember that we are in South America. Things are going well so
something is bound to go wrong. Most likely when you are least
expecting it.

With
Julian having broken the heart of one local girl it was time to leave
Choshuenco and head to Argentina, the land of great steak and beautiful
women. After catching the morning ferry across Lago Fuy to the border
everything was going well until The Minnesota Kid forgot a key piece of
paper.

Quick travel tip: When traveling to Chile keep the little yellow paper they stamp and give you until you leave the country.
This didn’t cost too much time and we were on track for a great night
in Bariloche, with ”I’m Horny” as the soundtrack for the night blasting
on the stereo. Unfortunately Zie Germans had other plans for us.
Halfway into the trip the Mercedes busted a gut and came banging to a
grizzly end.
Five hours later we were speeding our way to Bariloche, just with a
little more dust. Rolling into town at midnight we checked into the
hotel and ran out for our first steak of the trip. Dinner finished at
1:30 am, just in time to hit the disco and see some live music. The
rest of the group bailed claiming anything from age to fatigue to the
fact that we had to paddle the next day and all retired to bed. So the
Crazy South African and I headed out into the night. Why is it that
dancing like loons is so much fun? Anyway….

One
more river and it was off to Julian’s home town of El Bolson and a
night of true debate. With the Yanks retiring early it was more of a
Commonwealth discussion at the bar. As with any true antipodean group
this turned to ragging on each other very quickly. I feel the Brits
came out on top due to sheer numbers.
The next day we were all feeling a little less active as we finally
headed back into Chile. It was disco night, and never wanting to miss
an opportunity to take part in a little cultural misunderstanding, the
group descended on the disco. Apparently it is not acceptable to dance
by yourself or in groups in South America. You must dance man with
woman at all times or be considered worthy of picking a fight with.
With the night finishing just as the sun was coming up it was time to
get some sleep before venturing onto the Fu.

As for the international relations nothing really got sorted out except that Marmite is the true yeast extract spread.

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