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…… 🙂
Being a Canadian i’m used to fanatical hockey parents. The ones who are defined by their kids sport. They always have something to talk about at parties. They are put in better social circles if they’re child is gifted. You know the ones. Well, I actually met one of these fanatical parents at the kite beach near Corpus Christy, Texas. I could not believe it. She was a single mom with two teenage boys. They drove from Dallas to Corpus Christy every weekend to kite, a three hour drive each way. She had coolers of drinks, food, camera’s, hats, sunscreen…… she was on it. I approached the oldest boy to ask him how he liked his liquid force kite he was riding and the mom answered. She gave me a 10 minute detailed description on the boys gear and riding history. When I asked her if she kite surfed as well she said she has never tried. I was instantly amazed that a woman who doesn’t know anything about kite surfing knew so much. I asked a few more questions just to see how far this over parenting would go and to my surprise she knew absolutely everything there was to know. Amazing! When her boys went to switch off (they only had 1 kite between the 2 of them) she was right there telling them what to do and how to do it. Then when they were riding she was taking pictures and videos. Don’t get me wrong I think the support was great but the way she treated these kids I thought they were 12 and 14 years old so when I asked them how old they were and they said 17 and 19 I was shocked. Watching this display really made me think about how far kitesurfing has come. The fact that the sport has grown to a point where parents are saving up to buy their kids kite gear and sitting on the side lines bragging to others about the gear or their kids abilities is amazing. It puts me right back in the hockey arena were I spent many years of my life watching my little brother grow up. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 5 years!
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
We got up early and headed from Austin to Texas City to go kitesurfing. It’s a pretty long drive so thank god the wind was good there in the afternoon. When we arrived to the lagoon the wind was only 13 knots. Not quite enough for my 9m but it was all I had so I decided to give it a try because not kiting was not a possibility. I had to borrow someone’s board here because the airline would have charged me over $100 for luggage if I brought mine so I had this huge 139 Liquid Force board to ride. Low wind, big board…..oh well the challenge will just make me better in the long run. The riding area there is awesome. There is around 500 feet of thigh high water and it’s really warm. Perfect spot for teaching and fishing. While I was riding I kept running over fish and some of them were so big they would made a thud sound as they hit my fin. On one tact a fish jumped up, hit my thigh, bounced up and smacked me right in the mouth. For the next 20 min all I could smell was fish. What are the odds of this happening? I wish I had my GoPro on for that! We ended up riding for just under 3 hours until the wind was just too light for my kite. It was an awesome experience for me to ride flat water as it was my first time ever!!
This week end I got the opportunity to be in a kitesurfing film with Oxbow www.oxboworld.com. I was approached by the producer of the film to do the “lifestyle” part. They already have all the footage of their team riders but needed the rest of the footage. The scenery at Amayo Kite Beach is amazing with the wind turbines and the volcano’s creating an almost magical atmosphere. The entire process of making a film is interesting. It’s crazy how just a few minutes of film took over 11 hours to shoot. There is a lot that goes into it and the rider has to be good. In exchange for my time in doing the film, the producer shot a promotional video for me, which I can use to try and get sponsored. I spent more then a few hours taking jump after jump which is actually is hard to do on spot with changing conditions. When the wind kicks up so do the waves and Toma could only stand so deep in the water. Trying to get a good jump off between the white wash was brutal. Hopefully he got some good shots! Can’t wait to see the finished product.
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?
I was in Central America recently on a surf trip when I stumbled upon Lake Nicaragua. As I was passing the southern tip of the lake in a taxi we came upon a windmill farm catching side on shore winds. I motioned for the taxi driver to stop so I could get out and check the conditions. It was all farm land with a small but workable beach. The water was choppy but the wind is strong and consistent. I continued on to the town of San Juan del Sur where I heard there was cheap hostels and a good nightlife. San Juan is known as “the surf town” of Nicaragua. It’s a really cool little place with plenty of ex-pats who have a healthy social life and passing through tourists who have a hard time leaving. I spent a week walking around meeting people and asking if anyone was kite surfing in the area. If the person even knew what I was talking about then I got the answer “there was a guy a few years ago who was doing it but is gone now”. So I went a did a whole bunch of Internet research and found there are good winds January through to May and 1 article was written in 2007 for Kite surf mag but other than that it’s pretty much unchartered territory. I went back to Canada, organized my life and moved to Nicaragua, knowing it wasn’t going to be easy but pay off in the end would be great.
It’s now been 2 1/2 months since I arrived here with my bags in hand ready to discover all that Nicaragua had to offer. It took me until 1 week ago to find who in town had kite surfing gear and who could ride. I ended up discovering the Good Times Surf Shop where David is running a successful retail/lessons/rental surf shop. We have partnered up and are putting together all things necessary to make the most of this fast approaching windy season. It is a going to be quite the adventure here for me and there will never be a dull moment!!