2nd Trip into Mexico

Alzar School | 07.11.07

When Kristin and I returned to the States, we loaded the bikes into the trailer and drove them from El Paso to Charlotte. Our return flight to Boise had us staying in San Antonio for two days, and my older brother Ryan wanted to try out kayaking. So, we rented kayaks from the Power Olympic Outdoor Center (POOC) in San Marcos, and took him and his new wife Heather for a day on the San Marcos River. Surprisingly, this spring-fed river was very clean and clear, and has a nice play park in it. Hopefully, we will get Ryan and Heather hooked on paddling and get to do more of it with them! The crazy thing, though, was that Ben and Michelle Kvanli, owners of the POOC, are slalom racers and therefore knew of the Longs, the Bells, Kent Ford, and all our other friends from that realm. We got to talking with the Kvanlis and learned that they were short-staffed for an upcoming weekend trip to Mexico… and they invited us to join them! This weekend trip was heading to the Cd. Valles area of Mexico, a region we had read about but not had enough time to explore. We jumped on the opportunity, changing our flight and hastily organizing the camping equipment we would need. This second trip to Mexico got off to a rough start, as one of the clients, an Army doctor, was late getting off work… his excuse–the President of the United States was visiting his hospital that afternoon! After that, we had another rough go at the border in Laredo. There were slight problems with the registrations for the trailer and second vehicle, which forced us to stay overnight in Laredo. Once the DMV opened in the morning, though, we had smooth sailing… until just outside Monterrey, where Kristin was pulled over by a Mexican transit police officer for speeding. Fortunately, Ben explained that we were very good leaders, hoping to bring business to the region, and that he didn’t want our experience marred by a speeding ticket. The transit officer accepted this reasoning, and Kristin escaped what would’ve been her first ever speeding ticket. The basecamp for the weekend was on the Rio Valles, near the famous Cascadas Micos. This series of drops is one of the most unique stretches of water we have ever been down. You drop a ridiculous 380 feet or so per mile, but the runnable stretch is only 1/4 mile long. There are six drops in total, all super clean, with giant collection pools. Most have slides that set you up PERFECTLY. The water is a tourqouise color, a result of the limestone formations of the canyon. And, besides the waterfall run, there is a short, fun Class III stretch, with the same beautiful water and collection pools. The wonderful thing about Micos is that beginners or experts can truly enjoy it. The next day of paddling took the group to the Rio Tampaon. I actually ran shuttle this day, but Kristin says the run is a really fun, big water, Class III stretch. At one point, the entire river disappears below ground, at the Puente de Dios. That day, we also visited the Cascada Tamul, a huge 360+ waterfall–the Rio Gallinas dumping into the Rio Santa Maria to form the Tampaon. This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and relatively unspoiled by human development. I was lucky to get in a dawn run down the Micos with Ben on our last day. As we paddled down the warm water, with the sun rising ahead of us, I felt extremely grateful for this second opportunity to come to Mexico. I also considered the cold weather I’d be heading to in Boise, and grew excited for our upcoming expedition to Chile in January/February. All in all, the expedition to Mexico was a huge success. Writing this from Boise, ID, I am even more resolved to grow Alzar into a full, year-round school. We know that students of all ages can benefit from the international exposures, from the challenges of outdoor adventure.