I sometimes get comments along the lines of "oh you never put on weight" or "you're so lucky, you don't need to worry about getting fat" and whilst I seldom respond, the same thing usually runs through my mind - sure I'm lucky to have a healthy, fully able body and maybe genetics have been kind to me. Truth is, I like exercise - I think it's fun.Read More
We've been living on this island for 6 and half years now and given it's tiny size, you'd expect I might be bored of it by now. Yet I'm not bored. EVER. And there's still a tonne of things here that I haven't done!Read More
If you follow me on Instragram you'll know that I recently moved house! YAY! We'd been renting since we moved to Cayman as we only ever meant this to be a 2 year adventure...but 5 years in, investing in some bricks and mortar seemed like a "sensible" idea. Only we couldn't really find anything to suit our budget and needs at the time so we decided to invest in land instead and keep renting. Here's us celebrating our patch of dirt back in 2016!Read More
Little Cayman really is paradise. With only 150 or so permanent inhabitants, it’s still relatively unspoiled and life plods along at it’s own, so-laid-back-its-horrizontal pace. A tiny, lush green island wrapped in white sandy beaches spilling into clear, turquoise blue seas it is easy on the eye and phenomenal for the mind and soul. We spent our days swimming, kayaking, reading, chatting, kitesurfing, playing games and mainly enjoying each others company and the true serenity of our surroundings.Read More
I'm a bad person for abandoning you, my lovely blog readers (hi mum!) for so long. But I'm back! In February we hosted the first kiteboarding competition here in Cayman, The Rock International Open (TRIO), and I've spent the last month trying to catch up on, well, everything...
By the time we got back from our skiing holiday, we only had a few days to finalise the details before athletes started arriving for TRIO, kicking off on February 12th. Nearly 50 of the world's top pro's travelled from all over the world to check out our little piece of paradise, and have a stab at winning the $30k prize kitty up for grabs in the freestyle, racing and big air competitions.
So we had everything organised and we had all of the competitors, however, sadly for the first couple of days we didn't have any wind. :( But that's just the thing with this sport, as awesome as it is when you're doing it, we're completely at the mercy of Mother Nature - and as reliable as the wind is in Cayman in February , she just didn't want to play. Luckily for us, kiters are an understanding bunch and Cayman has plenty of amazing things to offer new visitors. We had a few fun days of paddle boarding, wake boarding and swimming with the stingrays and it was awesome for us as organisers and for other members of the local kiting community to get to know some of the riders who were such a pleasure to host - Alex Pastor, Alex Fox, Eric Rienstra, Hope LeVin, Billy Parker, Chris Bobryk, Hendrick Burgers, Karolina Winkowka and Chris Lazinski were among the kiting royalty that graced our shores and who I'm now honored to call friends.
Eventually though, the wind did blow and we managed to run a couple of kite racing heats, before it picked up enough to run the freestyle as well. Time constraints forced us to change the format to that of 3 "expression sessions" for the U16's, males and females which meant that the hundreds of spectators lining Barkers were treated to 3 hours of spectacular action. The U16's saw 3 locals battling it out for first place before Tynan Klein took the gold. Then it was over to Hope, Amy and myself to kite for the female title. Having been averaging 2-3 hours of sleep a night in the preceeding days and running around trying to organise everything for the event, I perhaps hadn't prepared myself for the competition as well as I could and, in hindsight, I really wasn't focused on the task at hand. But my god was it fun. My first competition! It was absolutely incredible to compete in front of a home crowd including many of my friends who listen to me talk about kiting all the time, but have never actually seen me do it, and in front of all the amazing international riders and industry legends. We could hear Alex Fox emceeing from the water and I had a giant grin on my face for the entire session. I tried to throw some tricks to impress the judges and the crowd but maybe I was nervous or the excitement and adrenaline of the occasion got the better of me but for some reason I just couldn't seem to land anything! I also completely forgot to throw a whole bunch of tricks that could have scored me some extra points and kept the spectators interested, but as I said, I wasn't really concentrating! I'll chalk that one up to experience and have more of a game plan next time...
The boys put on an incredible display in their heat with Chris Bobryk throwing down an unbeatable score to finish ahead of Billy Parker and Eric Rienstra. So inspiring to watch and ride with those guys!
I have so many great memories from the events, not to mention so many new kite buddies around the world but my standout moment was when I came in from my heat and Chris and Eric welcomed me back onto the beach with a high five. Four years ago I moved to Cayman, barely able to land a back loop and Amy and I spent the season egging each other on to try a kite loop. And here I was having competed in an international kite competition, which I helped to organise, on my local beach, with absolute legends giving me a high five at the end of it. Dreams really can come true.
Last month we made our dream trip to the north coast of Brazil a reality! For anyone planning a similar trip I will do a full travel post soon but just to give you the short version.... This is the route we took:
We had just over two weeks and starting in Fortaleza we stopped at Icaraizinho, Ilha do Guariju, Jericoacoara, Taiba, Uruau.
If I had to summmarise our experience and top tips I would say this:
1. Unless you have a month to do this trip, hire a car. We did and it cost us more than our flights, but it was well worth it. It gave us the flexibility to go where we wanted and the ability to pack in as many stops as we did because we weren't wasting time waiting for public transport. Plus it was an adventure! TOP TIP - get a decent map! We were lucky to be given one by a couple we met at our first stop - without it we would have got even more lost than we did! Thank goodness for the people who were
However - hiring a car in Fortaleza isn't as simple as it is in other places. We ended up using Localiza but we actually booked it through Karen at Ozone travel (more on her later). If you don't speak Portuguese make sure you have all of your paperwork with you and if possible have your reservation both in English and Portuguese. The people in the rental office in Fortaleza do not speak English - not a single word and we had to rely on other travelers who acted as translators and our paperwork.
2. Book downwinders in advance. We were told that these would be easy to arrange when we arrived in each spot but this was not the case. In some instances we couldn't do the downwinders at all. In others we managed to do what we had planned but not before we'd spent an evening searching for people to help and paying over the odds. Still, it was worth it :)
3. If you're going all the way up to Jeri, speak to the girls at Kitesurfando! They are absolutely awesome for organising downwinders and can organise all kinds of trips. We did one day trip to Tatajuba and they were informative, relaxed, fun and punctual. They also hired a new buggy to accompany us (we'd heard horror stories of people hiring old bangers that are far from safe!). If we ever find ourselves back in Jeri we'll definitely do one of their over night trips.
4. One the way to Jeri, hire a guide to take you down the beach road from Prea and over the sand-dunes. On the way back, save yourself $20 and freestyle it! Once you've done it once with the guide it's actually fairly easy to navigate back and much more fun doing it on your own - as long as you have a 4x4!
5. Don't assume that Ilha do Guariju is flat just because it's called the flat water sea! It's not! Whilst still an awesome place, with great people, it's not the freestyle paradise that we thought it was going to be. The wind has to come over a sand dune and is mega gusty when it picks up - and it's usually howling around 30knots. If you do decide to stop there, White Winds is a new, high end complex that has just opened up. We stayed at Wind Village which is really nice but doesn't have a bar - not too much of a problem because Pura Vida next door (run by a great guy called Joseph) has awesome food and a friendly bar.
6. Take lots of cash! Once you've left Fortaleza, cash machines are a rarity and even hotels quibble at the sight of a credit card. We took US dollars and changed them at the currency exchange at the airport.
7. It's true what they say - it's WINDY in the summer! I'm 5' 6", around 120 lbs and in July I didn't need anything bigger than a 10m. North of Taiba, I only used the 7m and 8m.
8. Don't miss smaller places along the coast like Icaraizinho. We stayed at Villa Mango as a treat and would highly recommend it - it's absolute paradise and the friendlies and most relaxed place we've ever been.
9. There are some hidden gems south of Fortaleza - particularly if you're looking to get away from the crowds. We chose to stop in Uruau as some of our friends run Pro Kite . If you just want to go to one place, run by awesome people, with gorgeous accommodation and delicious food and progress, this is the place for you. With a small flat water lagoon and a wave spot this place has something for everyone.
10. Enjoy Brasil! There is so much more to this coastline than kitesurfing. The spots differ so much in their offerings from flat water to waves, lagoons and downwinders and it's easy to get lost in the excitement of the sport and forget about the amazing culture surrounding you. Northern Brazil is stunningly beautiful, surprisingly safe and full of warm, welcoming and friendly people. Many of the locals here still live off the land and it's not unusual to be able to sit down at a Baracca (beach bar) and watch the fishermen bring your lunch in....
So those are my top ten tips! Contact me with any more questions!