By West Hanson, ASC and National Geographic Adventurer

September 11, 2012

Well, you never really know when good fortune will fall in your lap, that’s for sure. Jeff, John and I headed out of town after loading up on junk food and regular groceries to last us the next few days as we tackle a particularly low water section of river. It’s about 90 km long with just a small flow of water below a dam. A good chunk of the river is being diverted, during this dry season, to power a hydroelectric plant over the mountains, which means only a small amount of the river is allowed to flow freely through the dam. Subscribing to the “raindrop principle” of river flow, there is plenty of water to constitute a flowing river, however most of this section will require me portaging the boat over shallow, rocky sections that aren’t deep enough to paddle during this dry season.

Now to the good part: We arrived at the dam and began to talk to the guards and administrator about our plan. Erich Schlegel, our photographer from National Geographic and unofficial translator and generally great PR guy, had to stay back in town to do technical photo stuff via a solid internet connection. This left us with rudimentary Spanish and hand drawn pictures and photos to explain to the dam personnel our intentions, which were to portage over the dam and paddle/portage the next 90 km. Through all ourefforts and the good will of the dam personnel, we not only were granted access to the dams nether regions, but were invited to stay at he compound run by Electroperu S.A, which included the best dinner with professional waitstaff in the executive dining hall, clean warm beds in the immaclate bunkhouse, wifi (as evidenced by this post), access to the clubhouse (with bar, as evidenced by the whiskey and coke sitting by my side) and wait for it, wait for it: HOT SHOWERS! Here we were expecting another beautiful night under the stars, though not the lap of luxury and we end up being treated like kings. Thanks, so much, to Kevin of Electroperu for having us as his guest with such a warm welcome.

I portaged the kayak around the dam and was met with this nice surprise, so there you have it, out of the blue the kindness of strangers shines through.

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West Hanson is a veteran kayak racer and is kayaking the Amazon from source to sea as part of a National Geographic Expeditions Council Grant.