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By Jason Craig

Hola gringo amigos! I have been in Chile for the last eight weeks, traveling with New River Academy, an accredited adventure high school for kayakers. This quarter I, along with twelve other students, seven teachers, and coaches paddled, schooled, and experienced all that Chile had to offer.

It all started in the town of Pucon. Pucon is incredibly beautiful. Surrounded by massive volcanos, beautiful blue rivers, and steep creeks. This place had it all, even bonita chicas en the dusty streets! I would wake up in the warm morning, do morning workout, six periods of classes then go paddling. In Pucon we got to paddle on three rivers; Trancura, Licura, and the middle Palguin. Right outside of our base was the Trancura river and an awesome playhole that we would wake up early and do morning sessions on. Then after school we had the option of training in the Licura hole, or paddling the upper Palguin’s waterfalls. Then on weekends we would walk around town and find in search of the very best burgers!

After Pucon, our next stop was the little town of Chosuenco, and the Rio Fuy. My first impression of this place was that it was just a little town, but I slowly fell in love with the place. We stayed in La Posada, a family owned hostel. Here we lived right with a Chilaen family in rooms above the their restaurant. In between classes I would run over to the supermercado across the street and buy a Super Ocho (candy) and a Pepsi in a glass bottle. That kept me going throughout the school day. When we hit the river, we had lots of options. The upper Fuy had a great waterfall section. The middle Fuy, which was full of awesome boulder gardens and endless boofs, was another option. Or the lower Fuy, which was a great beginner run, where we could paddle right down to the lake and walk back to La Posada. Then at night after study hall I would go on walks on the beach and try to speak spanish with the local girls. When the week was done I was sad to leave that place.

After Chosuenco, New River Academy returned to Pucon for a few more weeks before we were to leave to go to the Futaleufu River. I had watched the Kayak Session guide about the Futa and was pretty ecstatic to go visit the famous river. Well, right in the middle of us packing for the Futa, we got news that Volcano Chaiten, near the Futa had erupted. Right away the school came up with an awesome new plan: Pichilemu. Muy grande ocean waves!!

We loaded into the big sliver van and headed to the coast. New RIver Academy arrived in the surfing town of Pichilemu. This is the location of the Quicksilver Tow In Surfing World Championship, so I knew I would not be disappointed by the waves. I had met a few surfer gringos from Santa Cruz that were telling me about this break called "Punta de Lobos" or "Point of the Wolfs," which consisted of huge 20′ foot sets constantly rolling in. The very afternoon we arrived, we met the wolfs.

You could hear the roar of the wolfs standing on the cliff. Huge azul faces would break into massive foam walls, and die out just before the rocks. We suited up and paddled out. We were like rabbits to wolfs: Some of us making it past the fangs, and some of us getting "ragdolled" in their jaws. But, in the end once, we got on that first wave…it is indescribable. Just perfection.

After dos semanas of insanity at Punta de Lobos, we headed to the Maipo river to finish off our last few days of our Chilean trip. Instead of green forests, and blue water, which was what New River Academy has encountered to far during our time in Chile, The Maipo introduced us to the beautiful desert cactus and chocolate water. This river was amazing, truly a desert gem. Big water, sweet playspots, and big rapids like the French Curve made our days there extremely memorable. On my last day in Chile, I visited a Chilean high school to meet Chilean students my age, aced my Bio, Algebra, and Creative Writing Mid Terms, went paddling down the side of a mountain on a crazy river called the Upper Yesough, then had an asada dinner with the awesome people who lived there. That was a good way to end a great adventure in Chile with New River Academy.

Big thanks to Huge Experiences for putting together such an amazing trip! Also to all my friends, teachers, and other who were there along the way.

Singing out from a new adventure in West Virginia on 4th quarter,
Jason Craig

Photos By: Tracy D’ Arbeloff, and David Hughes

Here is the video I made from Punta De Lobos! Enjoy!

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