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August 15, 2008

By Devon Barker

Today is the first day of my travels to Europe for the World Cup of Freestyle Kayaking. Traveling from Idaho is a little bit harder than many other places. I flew this morning from Boise (BOI) to Las Angles (LAX) to Vancouver, BC and then I will fly to London, England, to my final destination of Prague, Czech Republic. I am in Vancouver with a 5-hour layover.

I went to Tim Horton’s, the equivalent of Star Bucks but in Canada and got coffee and two donuts and now am working on a little bit of internet work before I go out for lunch to pass the time. When I get on the plane at 5 pm it will already be 1 am in Prague. They will serve us a quick dinner and we will go to sleep to try and acclimate to the new time zone. I will be 8 hours ahead of you the whole time I am in Europe.

The last time I was in Prague was in 2005 when I traveled with Lenka Novonta for three freestyle competitions. Lenka is on the Czech Team and lives just outside of Prague. I met her on the Payette River in 2001 while she was in Idaho working as river guide for the summer with Cascade Kayak and Raft. We will travel to Augsburg, Germany and then Thun, Switzerland together for the rest of the World Cup tour. Then, back to Prague, 8 hours from Thun and I will spend one last night before flying to home. My return trip is a little better; I fly Prague, London, Vancouver, Portland, and then Boise. To my students, I will see you on September 4th! Study hard and learn lots about Europe. I will be bringing back pictures and video to share with you!

You can follow the world cup tour at and at

August 13, 2008

Kayaking as Gateway to the World

I just finished my first training session at the Prague Whitewater Canoe and Kayak center. This course was built in 1985 during the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia, now two countries the Czech Republic and Slovakia were under communistic rule for a long time. These countries split in 1991 shortly after the end of the communism. The Russians occupied Czechoslovakia from 1948-1989. This course was built as a training center for slalmon kayakers so they could dominate the world in paddling. A man named Dufeck trained very hard and won the first round in the 1953 World Championships in Italy but then threw the race so the limelight would not be on him. He could have won but without the attention on him he was able to escape by paddling to another country. He paddled his way away from communism to freedom. It is so striking to me to not be a World Champion Gold medalist because it was more important to choose freedom. It is stories like this that help me to realize how lucky we are to be Americans our whole lives. I know not the struggle for freedom.

When I left Idaho this year I was homesick before I left. I am usually homesick a few weeks after being abroad but then I am okay, as I know I will be coming home soon. I was welcomed here by many of my friends from around the world and that helped me to feel a little more at home.

During my training session I was reunited with Marsha from St. Petersburg, Russia who I met while paddling on the Nile in Uganda, Valrie and Erik from Canada/Norway (she is a citizen of both countries), we paddled in Spain together eight months ago, Jessie Stone from New York, but spends most of her time in Uganda running Soft Power Health, Ruth Gordon from Canada, and many of my Czech friends I have not seen in three years. The international atmosphere is amazing here. Meeting my friends from around the world helps me to be a little less homesick and knowing that I have the freedom to travel to anywhere in the world to see them is an amazing. I think my next stop might be to St. Petersburg to paddle. I will leave you with a few Czech worlds and another website to check for video of Prague and the kayaking at the course.

Cau- Bye for now, Bless you all for your support. Devon

Ms. Devon


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