Initiation Ceremony

Initiation Ceremony – Early Days on A Kite Board Part Three

‘Bring It’ He Says

The next morning, as I stirred awake for another day in paradise, my first sensation was pain in every muscle in my body. My face and eyes were still puffy, just how I’d imagine a castaway from a ship wreck might be.

In my mind, whilst lying in bed, I recapped on the previous two days both in and out of the water in La Ventana. This place attracts kite boarders some of who come for months, some come from far, far away. It’s definitely a bit like a cult, a smug little in-club I thought! And after the two harrowing water days with permanent sun and salt water in my eyes, endless salt water drinking, not to mention my battered ego from constant failure, I was starting to appreciate perhaps why this might be so. To think, that every one of these people had been through this ‘initiation ceremony’ I’ll call it, and at once I had new-found respect for these people. Again my mind oscillated back to the thoughts of my beloved skiing, and I wondered is this how beginner skiers see the world also? I don’t know, when you learn to ski, you don’t almost drown. You maybe experience severe cold and painful falls, I guess they are comparable. Again, thank you mum and dad for putting me through this when I was three and can barely remember!

In My ‘Drug Rug’

Thankfully, my instructor Alan’s girlfriend Manon, a petite French Canadian girl is the massage therapist in La Ventana, and I was able to get an appointment before our lesson. Manon had her work cut out for her releasing knots and tension from the past few days everywhere but especially my shoulders and butt. My abs also hadn’t had this much work out for a very long time. Like many massage therapists I’ve met before in ski resorts or Heliski operations, she’d lived and worked all over the world, including Australia and she’d discovered kite boarding by accident via a boyfriend.That morning, although I was pleased I was making progress, I admit, I feared the worst for this day. Could I go the distance? It was my last day in La Ventana before returning to SF to my beloved skiing. If there were more days, I would have for sure taken a rest day at least at this point. But, alas, I’m no quitter, I thought. The show must and will go on.

Ah, Kiting yes ME!

On my final day, thanks to Manon’s massage, Alan’s encouragement, and secretly, my excitement that indeed, today was my last day (yes, shame on me), I entered the gorgeous azure blue water with as much gusto as I could muster. I easily got onto my board, and up and managed to from the get-go have stronger kite control and make longer journey’s each time on the board. They were still short and I put this down to the fact that I had very little board experience. I’d snowboarded and wake boarded once or twice only before. My instructor told me that I seemed to be good at travelling upwind, which requires edging the board, but when it took to me committing to going downwind (flat on the board) in the direction of the kite, I seemed to falter and usually nose dive forwards. I was wondering whether years of skiing was at fault here, or simply my lack of familiarity with board sports. We worked downwind another 3 hours and ended with them getting some nice GoPro footage of me. Alan was ecstatic!

1) That Mount Everest was there to be climbed, and I climb because it’s there!At the conclusion, and about $900 poorer for the lessons, I wasn’t sure whether I was happy or satisfied compared to where I expected I’d be. If anything, what these three days had taught me, (in mountaineering analogy) was:
2) That I was just at the rise above base camp, that there is a steep learning curve to be climbed, and I am making my way up it rapidly, but there’s a lot more to go.
3) There’s a crux move to be overcome, which is me getting competent now at the board skills. I decided I might now move to do some wake boarding or even snow boarding lessons before I get back in the water because this can only help when I need to add back in the complexity of KBWOW (Kite, Board, Wind, Obstacles, Water).
4) I also concluded that it’s been overall a fun and somewhat satisfying journey so far. That I must celebrate the achievements as much as the challenges- my increasingly strong kite control, the times I did get up on the board, and just surviving the elements, in the water (strange as it is for an Australian to say this).

Hasta La Vista La Ventana, I’ll be back.I was encouraged by the passion I was feeling from everyone around me, and my appreciation of being in paradise. I felt grateful to Xantos and Alan from4elementskiteboarding for teaching me and being so wonderful to me on my journey. I felt lucky to be alive and living in this moment, this dream of mine to kite board.

The Gang on Dryland!