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!
After my last blog post I received questions about how I did it. What did I do to step out of the box. Look everyone has their own path in life and what works for one person will not work for another but i’ll share my story with you in hopes it will help you discover yours.
I got married young and worked really hard to achieve everything in life that would in turn give me the freedom to travel. I was told that once you are financially stable then you go out and experience the world, so that is exactly what I did. Once I achieved economic and social success I fell into a deep depression. I started drinking a lot to surpress my feelings. I was only 26 at the time and most people my age were just finishing University, single and looking for a ‘real’ job. I felt so alone in my thoughts. Everyone was always telling me how I had the ‘perfect’ life. I had a good career, a fireman husband, a house, an investment condo, a new car, a motor bike……. I had everything but I was totally miserable. the only thing I could do to not start a heavy dose of anti-depresents was to start changing my life.
First thing I did was get a dog and started walking 2 hours a day. I needed time to think. I needed time to rediscover who I was. Day after day I opened up the box of where I put my heart and my dreams. I dug deep to find my desires, my childhood goals. After quite some time I found me. The girl who wants to be on the beach, laughing and hanging out by the fire with friends. After all this time she was still there with the same intensity. She never went away. I couldn’t out grow her, so I embraced her.
The second thing I did was apply for various jobs within the travel industry so I could spend my time talking about what I loved. I ended up getting a job as a travel agent which was the start to the best thing that could have happened to me. My days were filled with learning about the wonders of the world and helping others find their own journey. For the first time ever I started to feel like home. People working in the industry were the same as me. We all had that similar burning desire to escape. Putting myself in an environment that harnessed my desires instead of supressed them. In an invironment where I who I was is normal and I didn’t have to feel like the black sheep all the time. I began become more confident in who I was and knew that my new friends would support me in whatever I decided to do in life. I remembered my greatest desire as a child was to go to the amazon like Jacques-Yves Cousteau so when I saw the opportunity come up to join an experimental tour down the river I just about jumped out of my skin. It was stiff competition with only room for 19 agents in the whole world to join. I applied. I was denied. I applied again. I begged. I was denied again. I drank. One month later I was sitting alone watching TV when I got a feeling to apply one more time, so I did. It was a Sunday night 3 weeks before the tour was to leave and I had nothing to lose. The next day at work I got a call and I was in. There was a last minute cancellation and they picked me to join.
Peru was incredible, everything I dreamt it would be. I was blessed enough to go deep into the jungle because it was pre-tourism season and the water was at 22 feet. The moment I was playing soccer on the edge of the river with a tribe of people who very rarely see white people I felt it. I finally caught up to me. I joined my soul. I was there. From that moment on I could experience my life. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I would never again be the same person. When you get the opportunity to stand in the middle of where you have always wanted to be it is a magical moment. I felt like a 5 year old girl sitting on the floor 2 inches from the TV watching the nature of things with David Suzuki. God if he only knew he would have been so proud or so I felt.
When I got home I went for a weekend get away with my husband. We got to talking about my trip and my upcoming trip to Ireland. I ended up being very successful as an agent and was invited to the global ball in Dublin. During this discussion he turns and says to me “After this trip, no more traveling for you” This was the deciding factor for me. A week later I left my husband. It was the scariest thing i’ve ever done. I lost my home, my friends, my husband, everything. I drank. A lot. I ended up selling my house and doing what i’ve always wanted to do. I booked a 5 month tour around all of South America. 3 months later I was on a plane and a journey to the rest of my life.
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
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!!