A Note of Reflection: Our First Year in Chile

Yesterday we concluded our first ever season of adventure travel trips when we said our goodbyes to our intermediate group of paddlers.

It is a bittersweet, and even a somewhat awkward feeling sending people off to go home to their day to day life. Bittersweet because you are tired, broken down, sun and sand cracked and ready for a break, but at the same time sorry you are having to say goodbye after experiencing with a group “the good life.” Eat, paddle, eat paddle, eat, sleep, repeat.

Awkward, because, well, you feel like you are sending people home unwillingly. Which to some, that may very well be the case!

These trips had me taking a walk down memory lane of days of living out of my old 88′ Yota truck and going wherever the wind was to take me. I experienced a lot of new sensations when I lived this way, but nothing beat the experience of meeting and staying with new people.

I had the pleasure of knowing everyone previous to these trips, but for many, this was there first time meeting each other, and they had the extraordinary task of not only meeting, but forging a group together in a short period of time to reach a level of performance both on and off the river.

This does not come without its growing pains just like anything else in kayaking.

Our mission at H2o Dreams has always been to create self-sufficient paddlers as well as new ambassadors for the sport of kayaking. That mission by and large sounds like a fairly unitary task, but with trips like these, folks start to see what it takes to make a group perform. They view outside the scope of the individual and start to understand what it takes to move a group downstream on the river and life safely and with enjoyment for all.

For some this may be a stark contrast of what they are typically used to; a reinforcement to keep groups small and the same. But for others, this may beg the case for wanting to do more of it with new folks often. The lubricant to make this work is communication, and that skill alone was the biggest lesson for the folks that joined us on our trips this year in Chile.

Personal growth through the conduit of the group comes at a cost. The cost is your privacy of fear and trepidation, your ego and your attention to only your self.

But the rewards are great. The rewards are humility, exposure to something new, and the friendships and bonds that are forged through experience that are unique to the group.

I worked with a new team this year myself, and I had to expose myself to all of the same hesitations our guests had about their own groups before arriving. David Hughes, LT and the whole Pucón Kayak Hostel team made it  easy and seamless for our transition from base to river and back. We have without a doubt made new friends and forged new bonds, and we undoubtedly will return to PKH next year even more ambitious.

I owe a debt a gratitude to the folks who had faith in our vision and took the leap of faith of joining us on our very first adventure travel trip(s). We were still figuring it out as we went along which reinforced the idea that it was truly an adventure and not just a trip. Many thanks to you and your families for letting you join us!

I can’t wait to share many more experiences with you all in the future.

Warmly and reflectively,