The best waves in the country are found in Tena!
Two small bags packed with t-shirts, a pair of shoes, and two pants were my companions on a trip I took a couple weeks ago. After finishing the Friday workday, I left from north of Quito on a bus that would take me to Tena.
From there, after traveling about 186 kilometers, I finally got to see a good friend not knowing it would be one of the best adventures of my life. The hot and humid climate of this zone immediately let me know I had arrived. After a greeting full of hugs and smiles, the quality of people who live in this city, both Ecuadorians and foreigners, was evident. And the new friendships I made, thanks to my friend, also added flavor to my trip. After sharing experiences and having something to eat, the planning for the trip to the Jondachi river occupied the rest of the Friday night. Nerves about practicing rafting, a sport I had never done before, started to take over during the following hours.
The big day has arrived!!
At 7:00 we left Kayak Ecuador, the company that let us live this unique experience. Equipped with totally new and safe equipment (safety helmets and life jackets) we departed in a truck to the site where everything would start. 10 minutes outside of Tena, we got out of the car with all the equipment and boats. The people living in the area helped us carry almost everything to the river after a hike of about 30 minutes.
The descent to the Jondachi was challenging, the hike was full of rocks, mud, but also peace. With every step I clearly felt like the energy of the trees, the plants, and the river was having an effect on me. Looking at the impressive landscape, dominated by greenery was also part of the fun. But my adrenaline began to race a few meters below with the sound of the water. Once arriving with the boats, the amazement of the river began. After a very detailed safety talk we got into our own modes of transportation and began to raft for a few hours. We started with fear because the water level of the Jondachi was high and the presence of boulders was intimidation. During the first few minutes we practiced various safety exercises and rescues so that later we could ride the most exciting waves of my life.
The teamwork was fundamental. The guide in the boat gave us clear instructions that would tell you where to paddle. “Forward, back, left forward, right back” were all part of the instructions we received. Suddenly, I was immersed in a personal battle to overcome my fears while the flow of water was becoming stronger. The physical exertion also increased as we had to move about the water. The first rapids were approaching and the excitement increased.
After the first minutes of panic, I contemplated life and nature like I never have before. My life was full of color, sensation, and feeling. Consuming myself with my surroundings and enjoying the sounds was something I had never experienced at that velocity before. It was like everything was happening so fast but my emotions were so deep that I wanted to do it all over again at the end of the trip. Eating on a beach in the middle of the journey, the unity of the other people (including the safety kayaker), and finding myself made this trip one of the best experiences of my life.