Kitesurfing was everything I thought it would be and more. I think I'm just going to post a link to my web album for you guys to look at pictures. I'm so sad to say that my dang camera battery died way before I was ready to stop taking pictures, so I wish I had more for you. However, this is enough to give you just a taste of it.
First of all, I must tell you that I was very, very nervous about going. Let me be real with you here. I don't speak enough Spanish to hang with a solo Spanish speaking crowd. That was my number one concern. Number two concern, I'm not exactly a resilient spring chicken anymore, if I ever was. Gone are the days when I can get away with doing just about anything physical without consequence. Yes, I suffer now, I suffer crippling muscle pain that makes me painfully aware of the muscles I had forgotten I had. Being embarrassingly out of shape, yes, a major concern. I've also never water skied before, which I thought would be helpful experience to have had. The closest I came was knee boarding, which actually I was very good at so I was hopeful that maybe that experience would carry me through. So, as a result of all these worries, and my annoying little illness, I toyed with the idea of not going, I was very close to oversleeping on purpose. However, as some of you know, one of my better qualities is that I often make myself do things I don't really want to do. Sometimes this turns out to be a blessing, sometimes a curse. In this case, a blessing indeed.
The plan was to meet at 6 am. There were two predetermined locations for pickup. I got there around 6, it was still dark out, I was looking for the girls that should be waiting on the corner. (No, not those kinds of girls.) I find them easily since no one else is awake on a Saturday morning at that very early hour. After about ten minutes the rest of the girls begin to arrive and our van shortly thereafter. Lu, the girl running the girls camp, was as adorable as I had guessed she was from our correspondence and her kitesurf blogs. She jumps out of the van with her sun-bleached, salt-watered hair, and colorful skate shoes, unmistakable surfer girl to the max. Lu Alexandre Dupey is my new hero. She travels around the world teaching people how to kitesurf and she has been to some of the most beautiful beaches I have never seen. This might be my new career change here people. Anyway, after kisses on the cheek and brief introductions we caravan with another van full of girls to Punta Rasa.
A couple of hours pass with sleeping and chatting and bathroom breaks. These girls can talk like you wouldn't believe. There were about 12 girls in a van that had previously never met each other acting as if they're the best of buds. I've noticed the people of Buenos Aires make friends fast. The kiss on the cheek seems to break the ice and from that point on, everyone is friends. Another example of one of the many differences of our cultures.
We arrive in Punta Rasa and take a long and bumpy dirt road through the ecological reserves, destination beach. The road finally opens up to the water. On the left you have the Rio de la Plata and to the right you have the Atlantic Ocean. There is quite literally a small corner bank of sand that divides the two bodies of water. The river has warm, calm waters, and the ocean is comparatively choppy and cool. Truly an incredibly beautiful place.
This event was sponsored by a bunch of big companies whose presence was much more obvious than I had expected. After the water, the second thing that caught my eye was the giant blue eyesore of a Red Bull tent. After I realized we had an endless supply of Red Bulls I reevaluated my initial instinct to complain. I actually became quite grateful of the presence of sponsors when we had our gift giveaway on the second day. I scored some funky Mormaii sunglasses, an Isabel la Católica t-shirt, and a goody bag full of Nivea products. I love free stuff! There were even several drawings for cute shoes, more t-shirts, and a kitesurfing board, none of which I won. Of course.
So, day one continued. We load up on sunscreen, and sit on the sand for our lesson in how to kite surf. Lu had printed out a translated kitesurfing how-to manual prior to departure so I could read it on the trip. I must say this kind of increased my fear factor. They talk a lot about kitesurfing being a extreme sport and as a result quite dangerous. They put the fear of the kite into you.
After our little lecture about wind, kite positioning, safetly, and control, none of which I understood but one of the girls translated the important parts, we started with the practice kites. Small kites, but even with the small ones you could feel the power! It was amazing, wind is amazing! If you get that kite in the "power zone" it just takes you! Turns out, I'm kind of a natural, and had no reason to worry. This is one of my super powers, being good at most things the first couple of times I try them. After that it either goes one way or the other. I think I may truly have a knack for this kitesurfing though. Especially after seeing that the majority of these ladies had problems even keeping the kite in the air, let alone controlling it while it was up there.
By the end of day one I was in harness and strapped to my first real kite! Unfortunately it's kind of a slow learning process. Especially in this type of group setting. In order to be safe you have to go through the motions of practice kite on the beach, to supervised body drags in the water. Only after you prove your worth in those areas do you get to make an attempt with the board. By the end of the first day, I'd gotten about half way there. I was hopeful for the next day, and very excited.
The sun went down, the beach got cold, and we got hungry, so we made our way into town. In order of importance; we swam in the heated pool, we showered, we ate, we slept. I bunked with three awesome gals. Chelu, Juliana, and Lu were kind enough to take me under their wings. They'd even speak to me in English every once in awhile! After dinner everyone was tired and sunburned so went to our respective rooms and rested up for the next morning. I was so pleased to sleep in a queen bed after spending the last few months on a twin. I'm so spoiled!
Day two, unfortunately, was not full of kitesurfing excitement. The problem with kitesurfing, as with any other hobby/sport that depends on the wind, is sometimes there just isn't any. Day two was one of those days. So after our present distribution at the hotel, we spent a relaxing day on the beach. We ate empanadas, we went for walks, we took pictures, we talked, we napped, we tried to keep practice kites in the air, we swam, we waited for the wind, we just couldn't kitesurf. But of course, at about 8 or 9 pm, just as we began to pack up the vans, in came the wind. With the arrival of the wind, Lu hit the water, along with a couple of other die-hard kitesurfers. We had the pleasure of watching some really awesome kitesurfing with a beautiful sunset in the backdrop.
Moral of this story is, if you ever get the chance, definitely go kitesurfing. And if you're looking for me this summer back in Ohio, I'll be the one kitesurfing on Lake Erie.
View it as a slide show, it looks much better!