One good day of May, the feeling of contacting Fone Kiteboarding, arouse from deep inside the belly and rocketed itself all the way up through the spine, ringing the bell of the pituitary gland to finally come down and out of the mouth in form of a thunder charged with a simple code: Send email to Fone contact!
So that thunder thought was materialized in form of an email written in french language by mademoiselle Juanita.
Contacted Fone searching for a commercial relation with Pranik Kite Club. That means to become a distributor of the brand and also use their gear at the operation of the club.
It happened that the marketing director of the brand received Pranik´s project in her email.
Few days after, she contacted us and said: “I´m about to start planning a road trip with the pro team to Baja Mexico and I see you guys do Kite Road Trips there..”
Spent a month and so ping poing details with them. Sharing our insights kiteboarding wise, applied for the month of July on Baja´s territory; in order to co-create a Kite Road Trip for a group of 7 pro riders plus 3 media crew guys, plus Jeanne and myself, giving us the magic number of 12 people in total. With the objective of filming and photo shooting their new 2022 products in Wild West scenarios.
It was hard to believe the kind of dream that was being prepared…
The Baja peninsula is 1,800 kms long and 225 kms wide, surrounded by two different seas and geographic scenarios and this road trip called for beautiful remote spots with good enough riding conditions. We knew most of the kiting spots of Baja Sur, but this special endeavour needed even more insight, so we investigated deeper in search of them wild spots where the guys could shred in that specific month of the year.
The West side is occupied by the ferocious pacific ocean, a coast line guarded by several rocky point breaks and a quite minimalistic landscape, where you won´t find much more vegetation than desert bushes, sand dunes supported by rocky rather small cliffs and a wide, long and lonely beach that normally is covered with fog in the mornings, making out of your early morning walk a mysthical one. There´s actually no cactuses on this shore, but bushes and hills following along and in land.
Small towns that definitely look like an abandoned wild west movie setting where somehow they have survived the remoteness and cold winters (for Mexico) and slowly thrived from their main productive activity; fishing, thanks to the abundance of the pacific ocean and the yet small population of that coast.
Because you don´t see much farming or anything else going on around those arid & remote lands from the Northern Mexican Pacific coast.
Some local friends told us stories about how 40-30 years ago the fruit, veggies and general groceries truck, sometimes will take up to two months for visiting and refilling the few families that settled in one of these coast towns, because the dirt road that communicated them with bigger towns was destroyed by a storm or a collapse of a hill, and when that happened there was nothing else to eat but fish and drink boiled water. They say that after a couple of weeks of eating nothing else but fish, they will get absolutely sick of it, even by the smell of it. This scenario mixed with a cold winter and a +-12oC sea water temperature, didn´t help at all. So we are talking here about the somehow hard experience, pioneers of this remote coast had to go through back in the day which is not that far away from today.
The thing here and the main reason for this story to happen is that fresh wind currents in form of thermals hit the Pacific side in specific locations, blowing straight in to these little fisherman and dusty towns where normally they represent more than one point break that happen to be hit by the well known pacific swells and side & off shore thermal winds; a pretty fine playground for wave riding action.
On the East side of the peninsula the Gulf of Baja California appears, painted with the beautiful asymmetric lines of the Sierra, surrounded by a majestic desert landscape home of +100 types of cactuses. These thorny beings are actually very juicy on the inside, capable of holding up for a while the little water that rains in this zone. These kind of cactuses are pretentious enough to live only in zones where the soil is rich enough from certain minerals, such as cooper, zinc, silver, gold, etc, that allows them to grow in slow motion, at a rate of 1 centimeter per year. Measuring in average from 3 to 5 meters, simple calculation that makes you realize, you are surrounded by 500 year old beings if you happen to be lucky enough to be standing there. Enough reason to respect them even more and their mineral rich soil they where born in, which is the main reason of the thrived past this side of the Peninsula had, with the appearance of course of foreign mining companies back in the early 1900´s.
Fed by it´s gentle, radiant blue water, full of marine life and several islands wrinkled by their mountains, the Sea of Cortez is the main attractiveness of the East side of the Peninsula, that by the way, on summer the heat and humidity gets a bit nasty; but still attractive enough to Mexicans, whose body is used to hot weather and beautiful beaches and also by adventurous Californians families that are used to drive down in their big pick ups and well equipped campers.
The towns on this side of the Peninsula are more tourist developed, but still small enough to enjoy them as small coast towns. The main and biggest four cities in La Baja are Los Cabos, La Paz, Ensenada and Tijuana.
So for the case of our story, the sea of Cortez side would be more suitable for getting the freestyle, foiling and scenic shots.
Crossing from the pacific side to the sea of Cortez side, takes around 2.5 hours by car since it is 225 km in average wide.
As you can imagine, there are several unknown spots hiding from our globalized media, trying to keep themselves untamed and unknown, wanting to stay wild and for the wild.
Well, some of those spots where the ones we where looking for…
Our intention is far away of wanting and needing to reveal them to the world in order to gain some sort of explorer-conqueror-pioneer-kiter fame. But instead visit them and connect deep with them and their natural living elements, through a sweet #kiteboard session which for the matter of this specific trip, I had to sit the fuck down and let the pros do their thing so the media crew could immortalize them shredding on those natural mexican amusement parks. Leaving them wild spots alone and naked as they are without having to tell the world where they hide, we left them behind.
Even though this story might give you hints of their location, the purpose of it is not that one at all, but to share most of the “other” details about this amazing kiter dream.
Once we had the script of their film and having just finished a kite road trip in #Yucatan, teaching a family to kite from zero, we had to fly to Baja and in matter of one week do the whole scouting of the spots needed for their shooting and prepare the logistics for the whole tour and the special group of people that was gathered for this endeavor.
A 12 people group, signed in for this adventure with one objective: Filming and photo shooting their 2022 products, focused on the 15th anniversary of their insignia kite model the Bandit.
Since the famous name of the #kite #bandit, the media team came up with the idea of a story about kiter bandits of the wild west, surrounded of cactuses, desert scenario, a ranch with horses and a valley where “the duel” embodied by the master of waves & strapless freestyle Mitu Monteiro will meet the master of strapped freestyle & big air discipline Liam Whaley and go into battle as the most wanted bandidos, but in this case, the battle will take over the windy & aquatic field.
My self as other kiter friends that have being riding more than 12 years, consider the French #kiteboard brand as the forerunners of high quality Kiteboarding videos. In fact the first video I saw of them is called Addikt back in 2010 and remembering well the first time I happened to watch those videos, I was shocked of their quality and inspiring footage as so on the high performance & innovation of their riders. From that first video I happened to see on my early days as a kiter, got me even more hooked in the sport and my kiter references-idols appeared: Mitu with his unique pioneer style on the freestyle strapless and wave riding and the stylish technic of Micka tending to the old school moves. These two guys have being riding for Fone since the beginning.
Coming back to the scouting week; we crossed from the East coast to the West coast several times, that I actually lost the count; we drove everyday at least 6 hours. But I do remember well one of the crossings, which happened in a real sketchy dirt road suited for a proper 4×4 car, although for matters of bringing a higher doze of adrenaline to this adventure, Jeanne and myself where driving a small urban 4 cil rental car in the middle of the night.
A beautiful dark scenario surrounded of thousands of stars, the voluptuous Sierra silhouette on the sides and the shadows of cactuses all around, moving at the rhythm of the moon light was the setting of this peculiar Baja highway, recommended by google maps.
Us crossing from the Pacific side to the Cortez side, checking every 5 mins how much we had advanced in the google maps app, driving the little car at a max speed of 30 kms through the dirt road, there was one thought cycling around my brain every 30 seconds; the thought of the possibility of getting a flat tire, since there where zones with some sort of sharp little rocks pointing out on the road.
The atmosphere inside the car felt a bit tensed, specially fueled by Jeanne repeating every 5 mins to go back. Yes it was a bit scary to be driving an unknown and lonely dirt road in the middle of the night with the mountains aside. But going back meant to drive at least 1 hour of the dirt road plus another 3 to go around the Sierra by the paved road in order to land at the town where we booked the lodging for that night. Following the maps recommended route meant only 2 more hours to reach the destiny so we charged in and made some petitions almost in form of prayers to the cactuses, owls, lizards, stars and mountains, to protect us and let us continue on that route with no problems, since we had the time clicking for an important job, life sent us.
At the end, we managed to cross without a problem that sketchy dirt road in about 2.5 hours or so and arrived safe at a lodge on the next town by mid night. Good thing the little car had brand new tires!
So we had the visuals of the main spots for shooting and also the logistics prepared, after a rushed scouting week and finally the time for receiving the team arrived.
Sunday 4th of July, 9 am at La Paz airport.
We arrived at the airport in one big, well equipped chevrolet suburban and one normal toyota hiace van, having removed most of the seats on this japanese cargo van in order to fit the amount of gear the team will bring.
Arrived at 9:00 am and it didn’t took us any time to recognize a group of diverse rather young guys with a significant load of kite bags.
Most of the group was right there, yet a couple of delays where there too. Two riders missed the connection flight somehow and the kites where also not there, only boards, wet suits, leashes, harnesses, cameras, etc. The kites will hopefully arrive a couple of days after with Micka Fernandez they said, but didn´t know exactly when.
Meaning for us in charge of the logistics of this production, to re arrange the whole lodging, feeding and transportation plan we already had, to the actual gear delay situation. And with a group of 12 people in a 4th of July (United States holiday), this re arranging can get a bit complicated.
Improvise, solve, reorganize. No time to fuck around!
Well, the half portion of gear and members of the team, fitted pretty well in the two vehicles arranged for the road trip.
Once Mitu observed the two vehicles arranged: the luxurious suburban and the normal hiace van; chose with no hesitation the low profile cargo vehicle, which for the record, he didn’t move from his chosen seat in the whole trip. Observing this simple behavior and having looked just for a moment in those sun & salt water burned eye pupils of Mitu, I knew a beautiful waterman spirit was in the house.
Took them to the small and private hotel booked few meters away from La Paz malecon (main walking road in front of the sea) with a terrace view to the small marina of the city; Hotel Mediterrane.
Funny coincidence, since Fone headquarters are located in Montpellier, French city which happens to be in the real Mediterranean coast. Anyhow, we just looked for the most private, cozy enough, well located lodges, according to the budget arranged by the marketing director and the possibilities that the little towns of #bajasur gave us.
They showered as normally you do after many hours of airports and airplanes and hungry enough from the trip they where out of their rooms in no time. So we took them walking by the malecon, half closed because of those nonsense authority covid restrictions, packing all the tourism and local transit in only one side of it, instead of giving more physical distance having both sides opened, nonsense…
Anyway, after a tasty mexican baja brunch and the strong heat of summer rising up, we went back to the a/c of the Mediterranean rooms for some chilling and waiting time for the afternoon sun so we could take them checking the ranch location and get some shooting done.
There’s a whole story to be covered by the media crew…
The ranch happened to be of a local friend of mine, which happened to be the perfect scenario for the film needs. An abandoned Wild Mexican West ranch where no people around you could see. More like a ghost ranch.
A petit abandoned house or rest of a house was one of the main venues for the first shots. Few pieces of wood and metal sheets where put together in order to hold the 4 walls and a ceiling. Old and rusty, worn down by the deserts sun and dust.
The front terrace of this little house welcomes the ghosts and the lizards on a couple of unraveled seats, that most probably where sitting there since the mexican revolution, a little swinging chair rusty enough to break any moment, figuring that was meant for one of the great grand daughters of the first family members that came to inhabit those arid lands. An old statue of Virgin María with almost no more paint on it and some plants and little cactuses in pots that have survived miraculously without water for the last decades, also welcomed us in the fancy house.
The media crew liked the location and immediately started shooting scenes of the riders using the bandidos bandanas.
It was Sunday and the family of the ranch was gathered as usually they gather on the family day. They welcomed us with a warm smile, showing interest on the multicultural group of young sports.
After putting up with the heat and finishing the shooting with some sublime sunset light, some hunger was feeling in the guts.
The ranch´s family had prepared traditional burritos with machaca, beans, local cheese, avocado and hot sauce. The machaca is a type of dried cow meat that is very common on the northern part of Mexico.
As normally, mexican´s show a warm welcome and hospitality to foreigners that come visit their place. They prepared a simple and tasty meal, sitting us in the table next to the wood fire grill where they normally cook meals for small or big family gatherings.
They also had a cooler full of cold beers as normally you do in a mexican gathering but of course most of the pros don’t drink. Maybe as much as one beer, mainly by the media crew, to close the working day, refresh from the heat and feel now in Mexico.
Next day, we still didn’t get news from the kites and for our misfortune, a nice swell was hitting the pacific side, although there’s still lots of work to do at the ranch: Horses time!
This day the shooting of “The Duel” was done.
The shooting was taken in the lands of the ranch in some plains surrounded of cactuses and hills in the middle of the day with around 35-40 oC.
Mitu didn´t want to ride the horse, which was at the beginning shocking to me since he has ridden some really huge waves and thrown some scary strapless big air tricks with real wild strong wind. Putting himself in much more danger than the trouble this skinny horse could´ve produced, I thought.
He then explained, that when he was young he was thrown down by a horse kinda bad and since then he respected them a lot and also didn’t want to get injured in the first days of the shooting. After hearing his short story with horses, I thought that an authentic #waterman, such as a kitesurfer of his league, can be quite distant to be an authentic field man, such as a cowboy. He was born surrounded of water, boards, rocky points and waves, instead of horses, soil and cactuses. He was born salty!
Liam rode his horse in walking mode, in order to get that #kiter wild west bandit shot of him approaching the spot for the duel against the other kiter strapless bandido.
Marcela Witt the Brazilian #strapless & multidisciplinary rider, was actually the stunt for the horse running shots. She is used to ride horses in #Brazil, and rode it without hesitation. Vocalizing a Brazilian Portuguese as mother language, it seems that she sings when she speaks, her voice is a sweet one.
Marcela is quite energetic and normally is solving a million things on the phone. She entrepreneurs in many ways and functions as an athlete influencer. She has an amazing old school bus as a home in the states, even though she spends a lot of time in the sea of her home spot Rio de Janeiro. Marcela is quite athletic and as most of the team riders of this story, she come´s from pioneer water sports families. In her case, she told me that her grand father was a windsurfer, paraglider and extreme sports junkie back in time and happened to be one of the very first guys kiting in Brazil back in 1998 or so when the first kiteboard prototypes came out. Prototypes that actually where quite rustic and scary, made only for real extreme sports junkies.
I find it a life gift to come from that kind of genes lineage Marcela has.
That day in the afternoon we also checked the sea side of the ranch, where because of its specific geography, it forms a ventury wind effect in the afternoons just before the sun sets, pushing the wind off shore, creating a nice super flat spot for the freestylers to get some action done. The wind strength varying from 15 to 20 knts.
But hold on, still no kites with us.. bummer!
Anyway, that day the ranch shots and work was well done.
Next day, that is Tuesday, we still didn’t have news on when the kites will arrive. It seemed they where stuck somewhere in Germany also with Micka, but the team´s guess was that they will arrive next day. So that day we went exploring the pacific side and get some lifestyle shots at some remote beach that presents a point break where some local #surfers and #kitesurfers go when there’s nice swell and wind.
One year ago, we camped there for few nights and got to ride some big breaking waves (double head height) with a 12m kite and we had such a beautiful experience in that remote #surfbreak and its wide, long and beautiful beach. Sweet experience that moved us enough to take the guys there and see if there was any left overs of that swell.
The way to get there was a bit of an odyssey, since there are different roads to take and google maps (again) sent us through the trickiest one.
The suburban did mostly alright, but the toyota van struggled on the fords and holes of the left over of the dirt road we where wandering in to. Gotta say that we stripped all the car rental agencies in Baja Sur looking for convenient 4×4´s and there wasn´t more than one jeep available for that busy date..
It was very nice to see Mitu immediately jumping out of the van to push some rocks in to the holes for then filling them with soil. Others teamed up and did the same, the media crew behind their cameras not missing to record a second of the road trip adventure we where.
We where stuck in the middle of nowhere and if that van happened to get completely stuck there, well, that cool moment of exploring Baja´s dirt roads in order to reach certain surf points, would´ve been transformed in a not cool situation, because it would have meant to walk few hours in the middle of the desert at the sun´s peak time or wait for getting aid. But thanks to this first manifestation of team work, we actually cleared two or three rather sketchy
spots, until finally arrived at “the spot”, where for our misfortune there where no waves left for the guys to surf (they did have the kite surf boards with them), so instead they did some lifestyle shots.
Came back to the hotel after the sunset as usual, after squeezing the best day light for shooting.
Showered and went out for another tasty seafood dinner, to one of the closest restaurants that seemed to be of the teams like.
By now, some stress in the atmosphere started showing up. The riders had already a week or so without kiting, since all the transition time they needed for traveling to this side of the world, plus the pounding heat of summer in the Sea of Cortez side, that if you are not used to, can really annoy you and more so if you don’t have your gear and some wind to go ride.
Luckily at dinner we received the news that Micka will arrive next morning with all the new 2022 kites!
So we planned on living early morning, pick up Micka at the airport and hit the road for a 10 hours drive or so, in order to reach a spot on the northern pacific side of the state, so the next day we would hit the road again, cross to the sea of Cortez again and lodge in a little coast town called Bahia de los Sueños, where on the next day we where supposed to chase a 15 knt wind that the forecast was showing outside of an island, with its beautiful natural scenario.
All this hassle, of driving so far north was planned because the wind forecast dropped down drastically on the spots we where supposed to lodge for that week, so again adjusting and improvising to the forecast conditions and sudden unexpected changes.
But gotta say that this no wind forecasted on the main planned spots and the daily readjusting of the plan was a situation that brought a bit more tension in the team, specially on the young riders.
Although there was an “everything is gonna be all right” energy in it´s pure Bob Marley chant, that felt supporting our trip all along.
Wednesday morning waked up early, mentally prepared for the long driving day and guess what, a flat tire on the toyota van…
Again Improvise, solve and readapt. No time to fuck around!
Jeanne went picking up Micka, I went fixing the tire.
Managed to change the four tires for new ones, with the car rental agency, since we where about to start a road trip of around 2,700 kms and that cargo van was pretty loaded of kite gear and passengers all the way, so of course this took a bit more time than expected, managing to start driving out of La Paz at 11 am.
By 4 pm the guys, specially the young ones and the media crew where starving, but still trying to flow.
After that day I guess we understood that the guys needed their 3 meal sharp in time-daily routine, plus snacks in between.
Diet routine that for Juanita and myself was a bit too much. We´ll do all right with a two strong meals per day and maybe some snacks in between. Yet, we ended up the trip with few kilos more but without any complaint for all the tasty food we loaded in those 15 days..
It was the 7th of July and Mitu´s 38th bday! And his celebration was a quiet one, mostly on the road.
He said he is used to pass his bdays on the road, plane, boat or whatever form of transportation there is, since he has travelled the world a few times.
It seemed to me, that this time Mitu didn´t need to celebrate outside at all, but more on the inside, in a quiet and calm mode.
We stopped at a nice mirador in Mulege´s coast and took some bday pics with the beautiful radiant sea of Cortez, behind. Instead of the cheez whiz typical expression, we shouted “Kitesurf Forever” in honor to the master of the wind and waves.
Finally made it to Mulegé, small little town of the east coast, where we stopped to eat. Took them first to the cevicheria by the river, but when they saw we where 12 rather hungry and young sporty looking beings, they claimed to not have enough food for all of us, so drove inside the town and basically stopped in the first restaurant spotted, which once we were in, didn’t look that great as it looked from outside. It seemed there was only two guys attending it, one at the kitchen plus the waiter. And you should’ve seeing the faces of the hungry rockies, just about to start eating each others arms! But once we sat down on the backyard and ordered to the only waiter that was there; in less than 3 minutes magically other dudes appeared out of the bushes and by 10 minutes max, meals looking yummy started coming out of the kitchen. We where surprised with the restaurant´s super fast service.
After 20 minutes of eating local, tasty, simple but abundant food, the whole tensed atmosphere was transformed. Right there my brain couldn’t stop thinking about the saying: “panza llena, corazón contento”, “a full belly, a happy heart”.
It was around 6:30 pm by now and we still had some 5 more hours to go, but now the thing was, that crossing the Sierra at night can get quite dangerous since there is a lot of cattle crossing. So had to check with Shari, the lady waiting to receive us at her lodge about this situation and she totally recommended not to cross that late night, since there are many road accidents in that specific section of the road. So again the mantra arouse: improvise, solve, reorganize, no time to fuck around!
She instead recommended the classic sleep and go hotel of Santa Rosalia, where most of the people going north to the States and Canada stop.
We came to the hotel and some rooms where not the best for some, but arranging a hotel on that same night for a group of 12 people at 7 pm was not easy, but we still managed to lodge. The reception guy after seeing our tired faces, proudly announced that there was a nice pool just underneath the restaurant, so we all went to the pool to refresh after that long, hot day, but the pool was full of kids and families yelling, which didn’t motivated much to stay there.
I went back to the room quite tired, turned on the a/c, showered and said bye bye and thank you to that transition day. We actually managed to gain a great stretch of the planned route, so the champions could shred in the only kite-wave spots available in Baja Sur in that time of the year.
Next day a new adventure incoming.
Maxime had said that next days breakfast was going to be taken by 8am sharp, so we could get out of that hotel and hit the road as soon as possible. So, we started the new day with a nice breakfast with a tall view to the sea and at 8 am everybody was in the restaurant, except the mexican guide, but when they knew that we where only 3 hours away from the main playground they all relaxed and got another cup of coffee. We got out of the hotel around 9:30 am and hit the road jack!
And guess what, again the plan changed since the wind forecast was becoming lighter and lighter in Isla Angel de la Guarda and for our miss luck, still didn’t seemed strong enough for three days or so at the pacific side.
So it suddenly didn’t make any sense to go chase 12-13 knts all the way up for an expensive boat crossing to this island and yes, we were actually tired of so many plan changes that weren’t directly influenced from us, but from external situations that kept happening since the first day of the production.
So again action-mantra time: rearrange the plan, improvise and solve.
We drove for 3 hours and there we where, finally at the main play ground, in the northern pacific side of Baja Sur.
It was around 12 pm when we arrived to the little dusty, windy and wavy town. Drove directly to check and analyze the different point breaks that this peculiar coast town offers and furthermore, check its natural scenarios for the media crew to get a visual of the spots and a plan for the shoots.
At the first break we reached, mainly destined for surfers since the wind doesn’t manage to enter clean there, a lady and few friends that looked on their 60+ years where just coming out of the water. When she saw the whole Fone clan approaching to the edge of the little cliff in order to observe the waves, she said something like: “Oh you guys come in a big family format. Well, better not to stay here, too many people already and locals are freaking out about covid”. jaja Immediately throwing the typical Californian old school surfer territorialism, but indeed the delta variant had just sprouted in certain places of the Baja.
After her, another dude showed up, he was also coming out of the water, carrying a big longboard.
Almost no waves the sea showed, but he still had a big smile on his face, the smile only water people know that comes from the after effect of being inside the sea hanging on top of your board, contemplating and patiently waiting for the sets to come by. After he saw the diverse family of riders staring at the sea, he approached and started asking about our origins and then nicely started giving us some useful pointers of the different breaks that the little town offers. Sudden surfer attitude contrasts, the negative-positive vibes aligned one after the other. Freaking world of contrasts we live in..
As said before, the forecast didn’t look good at all for that day and the next one, showing a max of 14 knts. It seemed that the wind won´t come back until Saturday, which meant almost a whole week lost with no riding shots and the young riders about to explode.
Though, everything changed once we arrived at the lodging arranged. An American style house with rooms and beds for everyone, standing on top of a hill with a nice view to the Pacific Ocean, quite private, all for us.
The atmosphere of the house felt quite warm and family like, a terrace with a large swinging chair and a table, perfect for some calm breakfasts with good ocean views, a tv room where and old tv with a vhs reader integrated was showing off as a collectible electronic, a library full of old vhs movies that I´m sure, took some of us, specially the elder ones of the group, back in time to our grandparents house and the times of watching movies in beta & vhs formats. I´m talking about the 80´s and 90´s decades of course. We immediately felt welcome and right away new that we would spend few days there, exploring and riding all the best spots that could´ve being found around.
Underneath we have Anthony filming Matt and Micka. He´s Fone content manager , actually working at the headquarters in Montpellier.
Anthony is one of the most silent person I´ve ever met. Even though I crossed very little words with him, I could see in his eyes a very soft, gentle and creative being. He seemed the whole time just focused on his thing; every time I saw him, he´ll have that camera stuck in one of his eyes, like if it was already part of his body. I wondered if he´d also sleep with that video camera still stuck in his eye just in case something happened in the middle of the night, he´ll wake up and immediately start recording.
“Once read from a book of Pythagoras, that the sound of the universe in perfect harmony is that one of pure and absolute silence”. No wonder why the real monks and people who really devote themselves to the spiritual evolution are in constant search for that kind of silence…
By 2 pm the wind started whistling slowly. Mitu immediately started tuning up his bar and getting his boards ready. The rest of the team arranged their gear too, even though the forecast showed almost no wind, I observed on Mitu´s face, that somehow he knew there was going to be enough wind to get the job done for that day. The expertise and natural sensibility of this rider, regarding the reading and analysis of the spots behavior is something interesting to observe.
Of course by 3 pm sharp, them champions & media bellies were hungry as hell again, and the lady that was going to cook the meal for us, was not there yet. I could perfectly feel the mental arrows, the poor babies where sending to me, arrows in thoughts form like: Where the heck is our food man??
Well guys, you are in Mexico and in this land normally every appointment has a 15 min delay at least..
The Cook, a local girl with a friend of her, recommendation of the house owners, arrived by 3:30 pm and we all ate some good enough burgers, french fries and fresh fruit water.
The atmosphere relaxed again. A full belly, a happy heart.
I reviewed the menu for the next days with her and did an upgrade of it, asking to feed the hungry fellas as best as she could, asking her to surprise and delight them, with the specific abundant taste of Mexican Baja homemade cuisine. Of course she also raised the tariff and let me tell you that food in these remote towns of Baja, ain’t cheap at all for the average of Mexico, in any way it was well covered by the company.
And oui, most of the gear was ready to shred and so did the riders who where actually desperate to go in the water and do their thing.
By 4:30 pm we loaded the trucks and drove back to the main point break of the previous town, which was only 15 mins aways from the adoptive grandpas house.
When we arrived, there were only 13 knts blowing, just as the forecast said.
Mitu and Hendrick rigged the 11´s to my surprise. I was mostly sure they where going to pull out the 12´s, but it seems that these wave riders go on the 11m max. After few petitions to the lord of the thermals of that place and having waited around 1 hour, the wind magically started kicking in stronger. By 6:30 pm the wind was blowing around 18 knts and the swell was getting higher and better arranged! Everybody was in the water. The freestylers were surfing, the wave riders were riding waves, the media crew was doing their thing, everyone was showing a smile on their face and my self feeling totally grateful to the wind and waves, pretending to be part of the media crew with my little camera.
I have to say that, when I see the pics taken with my basic camera & knowledge and compare them to the real photo artists that happened to be hired for this kind of job, I feel like a kid trying to paint the Mona Lisa! (nevertheless this kid has fun in the trying and doing).
And since this first sweet session scored, amazing daily shredding action began and the guys got their daily doze of #kitesurf adrenaline.
It was such a beautiful gift to see these guys live doing what they love to do and therefore do the best.
Doing the thing they were simply born to do.
I will leave the images speak for themselves.
After this first sweet session in the water, the tensed atmosphere completely disappeared!
Then I learned that these boys just need to get their doze of water, wind and board action, in order to feel well. Then the thought came to my head:
If you are born to ride, then that’s what you do for your living.
If you are born to be salty, better of staying salty.
Went back home with big smiles, salty bodies, wet suits dripping and hungry bellies.
And normally for dessert after the dessert, the guys will play some UNO matches; after dinner, after lunch or breakfast. You could hear at least twice a day, quite competitive uno matches going on in the living room, fed by different speaking accents and loads of laughs.
In this last pointer, the laughter, we also have several champions:
Numero 1 will be for Olivier Petole´s (film director) laugh. One of those true laughs that comes out from the mouth with the strength of a bomb. Unique vibration that no matter the mood you are in to, will definitely draw an automatic smile on your face and will actually make you feel better. It´s guttural sound comes in such an unique frequency that it´s nuclear radiation scatters everywhere and fills every corner of the room where if you happen to be lucky enough to be hanging around this area, you´ll definitely get irradiated. In this case, I think there is a mysterious relation in between the happy tenors laugh of his and the level of creativity that his brain delivers. Creativity that has made him win few awards on surf movies. You will tell if I am right about his creativity once you get to see the trip movie.
Olivier and his red cam, wondering how to beat Maxime in the next uno match..
There´s a tie for Numero 2 laughter prize, between Hendrick Lopes and Liam Whaley.
Hendrick Lopes, the young strapless rider also from Cabo Verde merged with Swiss. A very interesting mix of cultures, where the sea and wave riding culture took over naturally on himself.
This super cool kiter of 19 years old seems allways happy. His eyes pupils show themselves most of the time dilated as if his heart was pumping pure happy adrenaline through his blood the whole time. His sight seems normally lost somewhere else, but once you observe deeper, you can tell that his sight is not lost at all, but is actually focused on some sort of parallel reality that most normal humans can not see. Because his awareness of the present reality is actually full on, his reflexes and adaptation to the present moment are very quick, specially when you see him dodging the super close rocks, where the waves happen to be the best formed. As close to the point break, that is where this guy loves to ride.
He moves himself with such an ease in a sketchy break like the one we found in this little dusty town, but still got eaten by few big powerful waves, trying to go in to the pocket of the wave for getting barreled. Having to apply the maneuver with the kite to get propelled out of the wave that just broke on him. Suddenly he appears flying out of this double head height wave and his leashed board gets the slingshot effect, passing so close to his head with such a speed and strength that if hitting him, not even the natural helmet made by his afro hair would have prevented a hole in his head. Scene that had me watching it with more nerves and suspense than when watching the last scene of the movie Brave Heart..
Hendrick also is lucky enough to carry a real #waterman DNA; being Airton Cozzolino´s nephew and Matchu Lopes brother. Two giants in the strapless kitesurf discipline.
Above Hendrick in his parallel reality, talking to the pelicans passing by.
The tie for numero 2 is with Liam Whaley, the Spanish-English-European freestyle and big air machine; former kitesurf champion with only 24 years on his bag and having being raised in Tarifa one of the world kite mecas; he´s a dude that simply rocks the boat. Liam is pure energy, adrenaline, flow and softness at the same time. A great combo that is taking him wherever he wants to go, in order to unconsciously radiate the place with his solar energy. Liam is telling jokes and stories the whole time that will definitely make you laugh. He´s travelled and kited the world´s most famous places and also comes from a well known & sporty family based in Tarifa, yet he still hang´s out like any other dude, wanting to just have a good time. But in his case, have a good time meanwhile being a pro.
And that is where the difference of a normal rider and pro rider appears.
See I have met in this 12 years of kiting experience many different kiters where some have consider themselves pros, just because they pull out some cool tricks thanks to their physical abilities and some sort of practice. But I believe there is a tendency of the humans in overrating ourselves on what we do, for the sake of marketing and commercialism, for the sake of feeling as high as possible. Over rating is actually a commercial strategy to sell more, aimed towards aspirational markets. A type of market that normally means, people who aspire to be more by having more.
Well, this aspirational tendency some times, many times functions as an illusion, since is not completely real. Because understanding and accepting your raw reality without over rating it can be harsh, but truthful and will help you to do whatever you need to do in order to reach that high quality state of being or business or whatever it is, you are trying to reach.
So, when you have the opportunity to hang around for 15 days with real pros, then you learn what a real pro caliber means and it means that besides that specific combo of physical abilities life blessed you with, the pro, has to maintain a pro attitude the whole or most of the time. And that attitude is fed by a daily choice and that daily personal choice is fed by commitment and that commitment is fed by discipline and routine, which in many cases means sacrifice, but in other cases means simply decision and joy of doing what you love to do the most.
Liam here performing a Mexican ritual called: Talk to the horse and sincerely ask for even more Horse Power!
After riding 18 knts in a day where the forecast showed less than 15, feeling cozy enough at the lodge, being fed like mexican humble royalty and specially after all the initial changing of plans due to unexpected situations, we decided to stay there for the upcoming days in order to explore deeper the zone and find the most photographic scenarios for their purpose.
Some mornings, after breakfast some guys will go searching for surfing waves. One day Maxime said that he almost got hit by three dolphins that appeared in a wave he was about to take..
Then lunch, chill time, uno & laughter time. Then get ready for the afternoon session since the wind at this time of the season is mainly thermal, kicking in after 4-5 pm; load the cars and hit the little road out of the town in chase of wind, waves & flats, and get the daily job done.
Above, Jeanne des Vallieres better known in the mexican world as Juanita, my belle partner of project.
We both organized the trip and she ended up collaborating with Fone as an extra photographer.
Juanita sees the world from a fantasy-dream-like reality. Her touch is unique, her art and creativity is simply and absolutely beautiful.
She is shy and quiet by nature and her flow is a super sweet one.
Her love for doggies, specially street dogs, goes beyond my understanding. Maybe one day she ends up taking care of a dog sanctuary, feeling completely realized surrounded of dogs that look more like a mix of rats, raccoons, ferrets and hyenas. As uglier and skinnier the dog as more attractive to Juanita´s eye´s and heart.
Jeanne also has a special fetishism for bizarre stories. She would invest some time listening to podcasts of these peculiar stories. Stories that would most probably knock yourself out of this world and send you directly into the bizarre world, stories that actually can be quite entertaining when you have her as a copilot in a road trip like this one.
Juanita can be soft as the snow powder and hard as those rocks she´s standing up. Although she loves to be a photographer, don´t even think on taking a picture with her and/or of her, cause she detests cameras pointing at herself. Of course she´s also a kiter and will go for non stop sessions of up to 4-5 hours in the water, trying to get those strapless jumps higher and higher.
Looking for flat spots we had to ask permission for filming by the fisherman “marina” of the little town we where lodging and ended up getting some nice scenic shots, even though the wind was quite gusty and not that strong.
The first day of shooting at this spot Paul Serin goes in the water and after few tricks comes out with one of the feet bleeding. A sting ray got him.
Took him home to chill for the rest of the afternoon and put his foot inside a little tub with hot water, since that´s pretty much all you can do in order to expand the tissue and let the venum come out and if the pain is too high, take a painkiller. He ended up sitting on Grandpas cozy, leaning chair and chose Ocean´s Eleven movie. We watched it for a bit and couldn´t help laughing at the poor image quality those technologies from the 80`s and 90`s delivered, trying to remember back in those days if the movies watched, looked that bad and of course pointing out the huge improvement tech has gone through with the quality image we get to see this days on those plasma tvs.
Paul Serin is one of the brands main #teamriders for several years now and keeps a pretty cool attitude the whole time. He´s discret, soft, focused and well educated. He has one of the coolest jobs, that I imagine can get quite intense too, since the level of technical input you need to deliver to the company: The testing of the new kiteboard models and prototypes.
Paul has also travelled the world and scored some super cool #kitetrips and #photoshoots in natural mind blowing places, even so remains a young kiter gentleman. Coming from #windsurfer background, he said that his parents also where pioneers of the kiteboard movement in the south coast of France. He basically was raised by the Mediterranean sea, wind & water board sports.
It is interesting to observe how Fone gets team riders with such a filtered #waterpeople genealogical background.
Micka Fernandez, one of the elders of the team threw his moves in all the spots visited, but just after helping putting the right gear together, launching & landing kites and playing the ukulele.
Since the first time I saw him riding in the Addikt 1,2,3 movies I was completely inspired by his unique stylish technic, merging an old school main style with some new school tricks. He´s 44 years old already and fit as hell. His back, shoulders and arms are those of a surfer one, fucking wide and strong.
Micka lived in Tahíti on his early days, since his dad moved there for work, therefore this guy was raised by the French likewise Hawaii, meaning he was raised by massive waves. His attitude is a super cool one, an authentic surfer one, but in pro edition, though he remains quite simple and relaxed. Didn´t catch on him any pro rider sort of ego which for my perspective that is something to value alot.
It was funny to hear him say in his broken english: This is the biggest car I´ve ever rode in, when he went inside the Suburban for the first time. His presence definitely feels like the one of the leading pillars of the team.
Couldn´t help remembering the book: “Barbarian Days, a surfing life” from William Finnegan, observing him. Named “El Padrino” (the godfather) on this adventure, it has been a privilege to take him on this kite road trip.
Next day we went also to look upon some other spot inside the same estero and ended up finding some pretty cool sand dunes on one far end of the lagoon.
Maxime Chabloz, the young and powerful rider can throw some beautiful and crazy freestyle moves. He´s much in to paragliding and skiing and at his age of 19 already carries a junior world champion title.
Maxime´s voice is as solid as the voice of Sylvester Stallone and so is his attitude.
Being born also from a sporty, outdoors Swiss family, this young athlete bursts of energy and if he doesn´t get his daily doze of extreme sports in his veins or if he doesn´t get his meals sharp o´clock, there will be some trouble. I guess that is part of the spoiled heritage you get when you are born and raised in a country called Switzerland. Having those majestic mountains, valleys and lakes as a playground this pro rider can do snow, water or air and will also spank your ass in an UNO match if you happen to be floating around.
The forecast showed a supposedly nice swell incoming for Sunday and Monday, with some 23 knts wind, so we pushed the stay until that day. Unluckily the wind didn’t work that well on that day and the swell was not that great either. We waited and waited for the wind to pick up. It was just too light for the guys to go, and this was already around 5 pm. The tide was also pretty low, so all the point break rocks where showing their scary teeth to us. Mitu had twisted one of his ankles a couple of days before, so he didn’t feel hundred percent. But still, he waited patiently looking the whole time at the sea and how the tide was slowly moving higher. Hendrick aside, chating in their funky home langue Creole. It was almost 6 pm and the wind still pretty light, but he decides to start rigging his gear. Hendrick followed, Marcela waited.
They pumped a 9m each and I couldn’t see two things: 1. How would they ride the 15 or less knts wind with that size of kite? and 2. Were would they enter in to the sea, since there where rocks everywhere. The tide hasn’t covered them and the waves were breaking just in front of the rocky shore. Well, Mitu is ready to go and so he does. He walks in to the rocks and places his board in a little, narrow channel that magically appeared once he jumped on his board and went in. With such an ease he starts riding against the sea swell, to then tack upwind and come back riding the wave that was barely forming.
Few minutes later as if the god of the wind saw that Mitu, the grand master was there having to work the kite quite a bit; magically started pumping up. By 6:30 pm it was blowing around 22+ knts. Marcela rigged her 7m and went for it too!
The tide, finally came up and so did the waves. Another beautiful sunset session with good enough conditions for the guys to #shred. They all got barreled today!
All I could think and feel, was Thank You IK! (IK is the mayan name of the god of the wind). Coming myself from the other peninsula of Mexico, the Yucatan land of the Mayans, got to learn a bit about the veneration of certain deities that where pretty important for the old Mayans and one of them is IK. In fact, the popular mayan archeological site of Tulum, which was strategically built on top of the only real cliff that the Mexican Caribbean coast presents, was strategically selected by the old mayans, masters of astrology, time and archaeology, in order to build a pyramid like structure which presented an observatory and veneration room for the god of the wind, just on top of it.
Trade winds hit every year the mexican caribbean coast on shore and side on shore. Tropical storms and Hurricanes also hit every year that shore. The old mayans chose the highest and most rigid spot of the coast, to receive those natural phenomenons and practice their rituals towards their wind, storm and rain deities, being IK the mayan lord of the wind.
Anyway, coming back to the powerful northern pacific mexican coast, we managed thanks to the wind and waves that happened that last day in this specific break, to close properly the shredding and filming job, but gotta say that the intensity of these guys searching to get barreled, a couple of meters away from the rocks, caused some ankle twists on Mitu and Hendrick.
Mitu Monteiro the legend!
Together with Micka formed the two main pillars of this team since they are the eldest and have being riding for Fone since the very beginning. A great book once told me, that in this life it all comes down to the direct experience you gain from the time and energy you spend in your personal practice of evolution. As more you practice, as more direct experience you reach and that path will define you as a being in the long term. Experience is the greatest teacher of all, as the song Sleeping Lyon from Clinton Fearon says.
Well, since the beginning of my kiting days I have looked up to Mitu. He is being competing all around the world for 14 years in the freestyle strapless and wave riding disciplines. He´s won the world champion title few times, carrying also with his expertise a high doze of humbleness, simplicity and hospitality. I find the truthful grand master spirit, on those who are the best doing what they do and keep themselves humble about it, keeping your expertise and power in Zen mode.
Mitu´s voice is charged with a sweet and clear tone that makes you feel nice and welcome, even though he speaks like 6 languages. Being born in Cape Verde island he was also raised by waves and a simple island kid atmosphere. Fishing, running barefoot, catching crabs, helping grandma in the orchard and riding waves was his childhood. His eyes pupils are burned from all the #sun and #saltwater time he has spent in his real #waterman life.
Mitu is as salty as one can be and his name is already a branded model of the finest kitesurf boards Fone produces. Like the Air Jordans, but of the kitesurfing world, the #Mitu kitesurf boards.
Now he has three kids and a wife that seemed to me, he was missing quite a bit on this trip.
After all these years on the road, sea, air, photo shoots, world competitions, clinics, shows, kite festivals, etc; I guess he is ready to take on that fatherhood journey and whatever journey lays ahead of him, becoming most probably a devoted coach and a special waterman guide of his sons, friends of his sons and all of us.
Once heard about a philosophy that comes from the Ramtha School of Enlightenment which holds the belief of Satisfying ourselves from whatever human needs we have in the present, in order to Transcend that specific momentum of our life in the most natural and biological way and Evolve as a being.
In easier words: What happens when we satisfy ourselves from eating, sleeping, working, kiting or whatever action you are doing??
R: We are simply ready to move on and do whatever is next…
Satisfy my Soul.
I guess that mi amigo Mitu is satisfied for now, from his professional competitive career and now he can move on to he next phase in his life, yet you never know what surprise can behold the future…
Deep privilege to take him to some rather remote spots of my beloved home country and see him Live doing what he was born to do.
Next day we hit the road going north, taking the only road that exists parallel to the shore and went exploring different points that the map showed. Little fisherman towns where passed on the way.
We found an interesting point break with off shore wind on the way. A lonely light house standing there, but it was still early for the wind to blow, so decided to keep moving by the coast towards the next lodge arranged.
The map showed another point ahead but the road got sandier and sandier and our vehicles where not 4×4 so could not keep on driving on that little road. In fact the Toyota van got stuck twice, but thanks to the team work we managed to unstuck it and actually had to drive it backwards a whole hill.
Took the main solid dirt road again and kept
driving north, towards the final spot of the Pacific coast. photo: Matt Georges
We arrived to the last lodge of the pacific quest, constructed also on top of a rocky cliff, just in front of the majestic Pacific Ocean. Shari and her daughter welcomed us with a nice warm smile and meal. The guys chose their rooms and Olivier ended taking the sofa, maybe the most uncomfortable bed from all, but it seemed he didn´t mind much. The atmosphere was quite flowing and relaxed by now.
It was nice to see how these guys that have travelled the world in a sponsored format and lodged themselves in quite nice hotels and boats, will mostly flow with the simplicity that this Mexican road trip delivered, because in these little dusty towns there was nothing better to offer them.
There is an island in front of the lodge for about 2 kms away from the shore, which is home to many sea lions and sea birds, where at such a distance you can hear clearly the sea lions howling all day and night.
In the morning the fog will cover the base of the island creating a unique image of a floating top of an island which, accompanied of a warm coffee and the specific silent sound and mystical energy of the morning, difficult combo to beat in order to start a great new day.
Another day of shooting at the untamed wave spot and the business was almost done.
Since that specific spot, offers two bays divided by a rocky spit, it was great for getting the whole team riding at once. On one side the wave riders and on the other side the freestylers.
A beautiful long wave will appear every few seconds. The wave riders will smack it’s lip and ride it down, meanwhile the freestylers will use it as a rather big ramp in order to get some big air going on, since the wind blew around +20 knts.
Above the amazing photographer Matt Georges is on the move. You have seeing his art throughout this story and if you see his photos at the mountains and snow scenarios, you´ll also go a bit cu-cu with the sensibility and precision of his French eyes.
He is a dad too and if you don´t catch him wondering about what color the next cushions for his living room should be, he will most probably be working on some graphic design and edition of one of the magazines and outdoor sport brands he works with.
Matt was my silent copilot of the hiace van and when the driving was long, he was surrounded of hard drives, laptop and cameras. A playlist with cool music he played plus a nice sense of humor and sweet personality. He´s being part of several photoshoots in the most amazing and mind-blowing kiting and snowboarding scenarios, yet moves and adapt with such a flow and ease.
That day, being out there all along, surrounded of this beautiful natural scenario, boosted by the main elements we play with, wind and water, watching the sun setting in the horizon, painting the whole scenario of a silverly color, watching the whole team shred and the media crew positioned in their strategic spots, filming, shooting non stop, I remember I just felt an immense sense of realization, peace and gratitude.
The sun came down, delivering us another majestic divine sunset, but now full of pinks, blues, oranges, violets, purples.. It was one of a kind sunset that happen every now and then.
The guys, came up the cliffs, landed their kites and started playing around with smiles painted on their faces from ear to ear and diverse laughs with different accents.
That’s exactly the PRANIK effect! That’s exactly what these Kite Club is all about. To reach that high beautiful and natural state of being through a sweet, epic, session, shared with the riders you care.
A fire was prepared back at the hotel, so the guys can follow their lifestyle tradition, of gathering around it and receive it’s pure energy warming up the watered bodies.
And of course afterwards a nice grilled dinner was made, in order to celebrate the work done so far and to the right meeting of the elements we work and play with.
That night Matt and myself cheered for the work done so far and cheered for everyone, since we were the only ones clinking the wine cups with the hotel owners Shari and Sirena, surrounded of a million stars night sky.
Next morning was friday and we had to hit the road back. Long way back to La Paz, where they needed to go through the pcr test on saturday morning then packing the load of gear and preparation for the flight back home. We where around 1,850 kms away, so we will manage the return in two steps.
We drove back all the way to Loreto, stopping several times on the way for filming those majestic scenarios of the Sea of Cortez.
Also, still needed to get some shots of the new foil boards, so we found a quite nice scenario for it just south of Mulegé.
With barely no wind, maybe 5 knts, Maxime managed to pull out some riding with the 12 m and the new 950 wing with 85 cm mast, in this pond like salt water spot surrounded of hills and of course, lots of cactuses. As said before, the heat of summer on the Sea of Cortez side, is pounding, not easy thing to be out there in the middle of the desert putting up the gear needed to get the shooting endeavor done. If you stayed out of the water it was easy to get grilled, yet Micka didn´t stop rigging and organizing gear.
Nevertheless, the sea water was just there, giving the exact freshness needed to survive the oven like day.
We arrived at night at Loreto, luckily found a hotel available after squeezing the day before, all of the hotel list, looking for 6-7 rooms for one night. Remember that in this sport we go day by day, so it’s actually pretty hard to plan ahead. We totally depend on the behavior and mood of the elements and in this case of the media crew needs.
Once in Loreto we had another fine, simple but abundant dinner, followed of few tequilas for the guys, in celebration of getting the job done. We were pretty close to the end by now.
Next day, hit the road again, all the way down to La Paz, last stretch of 5 hours drive.
Finally back in La Paz and the guys needed few shots more at the ranch and hopefully if the wind magically cooperated few shots more of some free styling action.
PCR tests done next day in the morning (Saturday), since their flights where booked for Sunday. Waiting for the sunset thermal breeze, the guys went one last time to the magic spot at the ranch where Liam, Paul and Maxime managed to pull out some pretty cool freestyle shots with some 18-20 knts wind. The cherry to the pie session!
Last dinner by the pier, everybody seemed quite tired of the whole trip so we all went to bed quite satisfied about the gig.
After 15 days of coexisting & road tripping, slowly we got to know each other better, slowly we managed to synchronize better and as every constant practice with the intention of reaching an objective, we managed to pull out a dreamed Kite Road Trip. Now we patiently await for the next adventure and to see each other again somewhere else where the wind blows and the waves roll, so we can keep doing what we just love to do.
And so it ends this beautiful kite road trip adventure with this special team.
Directed by Olivier Petole.