As I got off the plane in Nassau in 2005 and was going through a motorized revolving door it abruptly came to a halt and I walked right into it. It took me a minute to realize I was bleeding all over the place from a cut on my head. This was pretty indicative of how the entire trip was going to go. John and I arrived early enough to head out on the water, the winds were marginal so I took the 17 Speed and the Flydoor. The winds were so marginal I got blown downwind for about 3 miles. There was not enough wind to jump so I just rode as best I could. John tried to go out on his 9 foil but there was not enough power to get up. At one point he crashed the kite into the middle of the road and the cars honked at him. I walked for about an hour then caught a ride back the last mile or so with a pickup truck full of construction workers. The buffet dinner at Orange Hill was spectacular even though the breakfast and lunch was pretty nominal. It was all you can eat for $20 and John and I gorged ourselves and went to bed at 7:41PM.
Day two we got together with an instructor named AJ Watson that I had been emailing with. He took us South Beach 17 miles away where the wind was blowing directly onshore, the water was only about a foot deep out 300 yards and he didn’t have any equipment for John to use. I was not really impressed, in the 3 hours we were there he spent 10 to 15 minutes with John and the rest of the time doing other things. I went out in the 17 Speed and it was not windy enough to stay upwind for the first hour so again I got blown downwind about a mile. AJ showed up in the jetski and was very, very angry. He kept yelling at me about “how was I going to get back, blah, blah, blah .” I dropped the kite and he gave me a ride back. He gave me a bunch more shit then took off. I went out riding for another hour or two and worked my way upwind about a mile and worked on my jumps. I saw that John was not flying so I came in to see what was happening, I was getting overpowered on my 17 anyway. John said AJ was out riding, so when he came in I asked him what was up in a friendly way and he told us to get our crap out of his truck and walk back. I was kind of shocked, but not that shocked as everything AJ had done up to that point had led me to believe he was basically a total sham instructor. His friend Sureman was really friendly and couldn’t believe that AJ was acting the way he was so he called us a cab. We got tired of waiting for a cab and caught a ride with a local for $25. We offered AJ money but he refused which was nice. We were happy to be away from him and his negative ju-ju. That night I worked with John on the 13 speed. We went down the beach working mostly on body dragging and water relaunching the bigger foils. He managed to get out on the board, but it was pretty dark and he got back to shore before it got totally dark. I met him about halfway back walking up shore in the dark. There was no dinner buffet so we went to bed hungry.
Day 3 we caught a ride to the groceries store and stocked up on PB&J and other overpriced foodstuffs. In the morning John and I did some body dragging with the 10 meter Voodoo. The gusts were boosting John way up in the air, so I held onto his harness and dragged through the water with him. A little later I went out on the 13 but was overpowered with the flydoor and couldn’t really hold my edge to jump. It was blowing around 20 and gusting at around 25-30mph. The board was having trouble in the chop and one of my jumps one of my feet came out of the footstraps. I kicked the other footstrap off and then the board leash broke when I hit the water. I tried to bodydrag upwind but it was way too gusty to get upwind so I dropped the kite and tried to swim back upwind. I couldn’t see my board and swam blind upwind for about a half an hour but I couldn’t get to my board. Things went from bad to worse when I tried to relaunch the kite which by now was full of water and a tangled mess. It flopped around a lot and dragged me downwind really far, but I couldn’t get it launched. Finally I got it launched but it was still bowtied, just in time to get dragged across a reef about 1/2 mile out from shore. The kite was messed up so I couldn’t really steer it, but it sure was pulling me downwind and across the reef at a pretty high rate of speed. I got my legs pretty badly cut up, but eventually I managed to get the kite under control and body dragged back to shore. I walked back 2 miles and met up with John who had a really good time with the Mutant and had managed to spend most of his time up and planing. He was done for the day, so I grabbed the Mutant to do a downwinder to look for my board. Grabbing the 17 speed I went downwind about 3 miles doing little jumps all the way. I tried walking up the beach, but there was one really rocky place with lots of big houses. I tried to go around them in the water, but I couldn’t do it safely so I ended up climbing up into one of the abandoned resorts and trying to get out. It had a big spiked fence with signs for alarm systems all over the place, so I went to the place next door. I had to climb out on a one foot ledge about 15 feet up. I moved along the ledge with my kite and board slowly being pushed along in front of me. At the gate to this fortress I climbed a ladder behind the wall and jumped about 10 feet down and grabbed my kite and board over the top of the wall. I walked back the last 2 miles along the beach and alas, no board. John and I had a nice buffet dinner and went to bed early.
Day 4 we were supposed to do the powerboat adventure, but it was cancelled on account of the wind. The forecast called for 25 miles an hour all day. The winds were marginal at best, Gusty storm cells pushed it up to high 20s then it would settle back to 8mph. After 2:00 PM John and I went into town on the bus. The bus driver had the word FRESH shaved into the back of his head and he was indeed funky fresh. He drove like a certified wacko and at one point he nearly ran over some poor soul pushing a shopping cart in the road. This poor guy had to leap up onto the curb with his cart as the bus slammed on its brakes. Rap music was cranking on Funky Fresh’s ride. This guy could have taught my elementary school bus driver Mrs. Bunk a thing or two about what being cool was all about.
I was really glad that John dragged me into town, I was sinking into a deep lack-of-wind depression. We saw a couple of weird forts then climbed to the top of this really sketchy water-tower to get a good view of the town, but the roof was locked. We went to this wild Casino called Atlantis. The dining area had these really cool aquariums that were full of huge fish, sharks and the coolest manta rays you’ve ever seen. It was really fun looking at the aquarium and taking pictures. The gambling hall was totally surreal. Full of tourists with blinking lights and sounds with old people at these machines just gambling their life savings away by pressing the same button again, and again waiting to be a winner. These older white Americans were hunched over the machines barely breathing in this dark room when they were in one of the most amazing island paradises ever! Atlantis was surreal compared to the ghetto reality on the other side of the bridge. When you go across this bridge to Paradise Island you feel like you are in some weird Disney World staffed by islanders. We went back across the bridge to the Conch fisherman market area and got some conch salad for $7. Conchs are huge weird-looking slugs in big beautiful shells. When he cut up out conch for the salad it was still wiggling around which was just a little big weird, at least we knew it was fresh. Lots of half-sunken boats and sketchy people trying to sell us any kind of illegal drugs we could want. We finally got a cab back to Orange Hill. One cab driver tried to double charge us so we said no thanks and found another cab.
Day 5 John and I woke up and waited for the winds, the forecast was calling for 27 mph winds. It was averaging 3mph and maybe gusting at 4mph. Once again I found myself sinking into a deep no-wind depression when John got me off my ass to walk along the beach. We went about 2 miles down the beach to a small shack that sold $8 conch salad. John and I split a conch salad, which was totally stellar. We both picked out conch shells from out behind the conch stand that we liked to take back to loved ones in the states. John and I went back to the hotel to chill and it rained on and off all day long. We got a chance to talk about Jocelyn’s death, which was very therapeutic. The only people I’ve been able to talk about Jocelyn with have been with (ex)girlfriends which to say the least has not gone over to well.
The overwhelming feeling I was left with was a love and acceptance for Ithaca that I have not had in quite a while. My favorite pastime is complaining about the winds and conditions for kiting on Cayuga Lake. Yet the forecasts are far more accurate, the winds are far more consistent and Ithacans have 2 places that they can launch from not just one. Really Ithaca is an ideal place for kiting, I was just too busy complaining to see it. When you get picked up on a jetski in Ithaca for going too far downwind the driver is always happy, even if he has fresh stitches in his forehead from kiting. Despite all my negativity about kiting in Ithaca a really cool scene has started there and 22 people are on the kiting mail list. If half of those people learn how to kite well the scene will be awesome. It really has been my pleasure getting to know all the people who either kite regularly or are learning to kite in Ithaca. The kiting experience would be vastly different without you all, and besides I can always feel like I’m not that out-of-control with my kiting addiction when Greg and Wing are out almost as much as I am.
Although at many different points I could have gotten upset or depressed, in the end I look at the trip as a grand success. I managed to really reconnect with John for the first time in over a year and even though we only went out a couple of times on the water I really feel like I got him more excited about kiting than he was before. The trip was much more fun with John around, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his company.