The thing I love about the kiteboarding community is everyone is so open and friendly. I travel around the world a lot by myself and when I get to a new location one of the first things I do is look for the locals who kitesurf either by word of mouth or via media. Every time I email random people or facebook friend requests to strangers in the area they usually accept or respond right away. They are warm, friendly and helpful. I’m not sure if it’s because i’m a girl which makes people more open to talking to me but whatever it is, i’m stoked.
I just arrived two days ago in Merida, Mexico and last night I came across a competition / party happening close to here on Saturday. I took my chances and friend requested the people who were attending. Within an hour, half of them accepted. One of the attendees who also lives in Merida chatted me and after talking for a bit decided to hang out. He didn’t speak english and my spanish is not great so it was very difficult to chat via facebook. He picked me up one hour later and took me to meet half the kitesurfers in town. Everyone I met was very receptive and even invited me to ride with them anytime. This is not something i’ve encountered in snowboarding, surfing or anything other sport to this extent. It makes me proud to be part of such a great group of people. There is just something different about people who kitesurf. It is such a unique sport, completely solitary but very communal too.
When I thanked my new friend for being so kind and picking me up, he said “you kitesurf, we take care of each other so its no problem”. So true…… 🙂
Sometimes the pursuit of one’s career can take you on a path you may think is completely wrong until sudden signs appear showing you that indeed you are on the ‘right’ path. You might experience a dejavu or times when you know exactly what someone is going to say. Often times just when I think my life has gone astray I will have the most reaffirming moments. These times in my life has been so confusing and awful sometimes that I doubted I would ever get what I want.
Ever since I was a kid I always thought I didn’t belong, that I was part of the wrong family, born in the wrong country. Something just never made sense to me. There was something inside me that was different then everyone else. I never understood kids my own age. I never had friends. I always hung out with adults and watched David Suzuki. I was fascinated by lost cities and amazon adventures. I dreamt of far away lands and about things i’ve only heard of on TV. I never wanted to be a part of my reality, for me it was living a lie. As I grew older I found a sense of freedom looking at travel brochures and fantasizing about being the surfer girl on the beach. The girl who looked so happy and free. I wanted to live a life of blue oceans, palm trees and beach fires. I wanted to be free. All through school I never really had any goals. I tried to be like the boys snowboarding and wake boarding. When I started doing these sports there were hardly and girls. I remember there were like 5 of us in a sea of boys. Not such a bad thing because we learned to be tough and fast. These were good training grounds for my later life.
After high school I took my first vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I was mesmerized by all the people living there from North America working at various jobs and partying. I was convinced this was the path to were I wanted to be. When I got home I began working on a series of things that would get me there ,until one day my aunt told me that my dreams were not real life and I needed to grow up, get a job, a mortgage and a husband. Not long after that I married, made a career and got a mortgage. I tried to pretend to be something I was not. I lived the life everyone said I was supposed to but I had never felt so alone.
Shortly after my divorce I traveled South America in search of my soul. Months into my trip I discovered a place that made me feel whole. A place where I felt I belonged. I did not know why but I stayed there for a year and a half, learned to kite surf and became that girl in the pictures. I’d never felt so alive, so free.
Now, my life is spent trying to keep up with my dreams, to not go back to the life I so once hated. This road has been a bumpy one and i’ve had to give up absolutely everything in order to live it but I would not change it. I once gave up and tried to go back to a “normal” life. After about 2 1/2 months I thought I was going crazy. That life is not for me. I don’t know how to live it. I never did. When I say kitesurfing, traveling and freedom is in our soul, I really believe that. I’ve always been this person I am today, I just didn’t know how to do it.
I wish school would have taught us about who we are instead of what we are supposed to be. I wish we were given the skills and knowledge to chase our dreams. As we enter the world in our teens we are really clueless as to what our options are. We do not feel it’s acceptable to be what we want to be. If I have any advise to give it’s this. Don’t wait until your 30’s like me to discover yourself. Don’t get sucked into a life that is not right for you. If you dream is to work at subway then just be the best subway artist you can be. Life is too short. If you want to read more about my journey to freedom read this article: Kitesurfing Love Affair with Jessica Winkler
Sometimes I feel like no one understands me. The amount of time and energy I spend thinking about kitesurfing. My friends all smile and nod when I tell them about a new trick I want to learn or a cool new film on youtube. In a sea of surfers, I stand alone. Constantly explaining to people how I would rather be 20 feet in the air then pinned to the bottom of the ocean or how I enjoy riding for hours at a time rather than sitting and waiting for a wave. I miss living in a place where at the end of a session we sit around and talk about what a great day we had. No matter how cool it is to be first person to make a kite surfing business in a country, it can be lonely. My only saving grace has been a couple kite obsessed junkies I’ve met in the last month and facebook. It’s given me an outlet to connect with other kiter’s and learn about other riding destinations. It’s funny to be feeling this way because 2 years ago when I lived in Jericoacoara, Brazil I felt like the whole world kite surfed and now here, most people haven’t even seen it before. Being in the situation has also really made me think about relationships. After many failed attempts at dating non-kiter’s, I think it’s impossible to really be happy with someone who doesn’t share this passion. I wonder if men feel the same way? If so, it must be hard for you considering it’s still such a male dominated sport. You’d think with that being said I should have not problem finding a match but in my experience with kiting the average age rider is 40 – 50. It’s a really strange point to be at in life, living abroad alone, trying to start a kite club with people who have never rode and being surrounded by surfers. I wonder is there anyone else going through this?