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In the event, the kit languished in the garage, threatened every few months by the wife to be thrown out or put in a garage sale. There always was a reason why I never took it out of the bag. Firstly, I needed to swim better; then the wind seemed weak, too hot, too cold; my Cuban teacher disappeared; my car broke down. The years passed with the gear collecting more dust.
And then last month, a friend came to stay and there was no more prevaricating possible. He had come to kite-surf and wanted to spend the week in Varadero. Now or never, I resolved that I would give it a go, but only under decent instruction on a proper beach—horror stories always seem to abound of surfers flying into power cables and taking small Caribbean islands off the grid.
This is where the Caribbean Riders Kite School came in. Founded by local kiters Carlos Casola and Darien Sarebia, it was recommended by three separate people and a four-day course was booked. They have a great piece of beach where you can have the joy of learning to inflate the kite, deflating the kite, practice running into the wind, away from the wind. Wind, wind, wind, my new God. On-shore good, off-shore bad. It’s a simple mantra.
It took until the second day to really get into the water, and by get into I mean being dragged face down up and down the beach. Losing the board, arms pulled. Walking back up the beach time and again dragging the gear. Now I know why I had left the kit in the garage. Full credit to Carlos (Charlie) and Darien, for they kept me going, and the moment on the last day when I not only went down the beach but came back was immensely satisfying.
If you want to put off middle age, trust me, there is little better than getting out in the ocean with a bit of a swell, an on-shore breeze and a baking hot sun in the background to warm you up. And for learning, Carlos and Darien definitely get my vote.
On the lee side of the Varadero peninsula, there is no white sand beach, no hotels and no tourists. This side does, though, offer some of the best conditions for the more experienced kite surfer. On our way back, we caught up with some locals riding the wind and the waves right up to the mangroves. Next year, I am definitely there…
August 2014 This article formed part of the August 2014 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.
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