Another summer in the Windy City.


The final stop of the trip to North America, ended up in Chicago and Lake Michigan, where I visited my uncle which happens to be also my godfather and my his three sons that happen to be my direct cousins.

These was the third summer I spend with them in their home town. My three cousins where all born there and still live around the city.

The other reason for coming to these specific spot in the world, is that I had some Kiteboard lessons to give around Lake Michigan with a buddy that owns one of the coolest Kiteboard schools I´ve worked so far, called Stoke Riders which by the way is a concept that i identify myself with and so many other riders, cause it talks about that natural high or stokeness you get after a nice smooth kiting, riding session.

photo: Rusty Malkemes

The base for me was the north side of Chicago at my uncles apartment, where the main kite spot for locals is at 20 min bike ride, called, Montrose beach. Besides those nights spent sleeping in a hamack inside the stoke riders van or in a tent somewhere close to lake Michigan’s clear and fresh water.

I didn’t count with a motorized vehicle in these case, so a well maintained, simple city bike of my uncles served as my vehicle for most of the summer, also the public transportation such as the subway and train took me around longer distances.

Chicago is a quite big city with some history; is one of the three main cities of the states with around 10 million people living there.

Is one of those cities that has such a wide cultural mix, that don’t make you feel like a foreigner anymore. There’s such a variety of cultures settled in these city that nobody looks like a foreigner anymore. Is one of those cities that have such a history and big inmigration background that now Chicago has become a city for everybody, where race and background doesn’t matter anymore, it opens its huge doors to pretty much everybody. And that my deer friend, feels really good when traveling and being a foreigner pretty much everywhere u go, but when u finally come to a place where you are just any other guy wondering around the main downtown square, where you find that you are surrounded by people of all kind of colors, shapes and if you pay attention in listening, you will hear a variety of languages murmuring around.

Just as reference; other cities where I’ve felt as a potential local and not a foreigner are: Berlin, México City, Vancouver, Barcelona and Amsterdam and a common pattern of these places is that they have quite a bit of history on receiving big amount of immigrants because of many reasons a cosmopolitan city offers, but in these case, the big demand of work labor that the same city required back in time, motivated a bunch of immigrants to get there and do what it took to settle down.

It is a pretty tall city; walking or cycling in its downtown, being surrounded of pretty tall buildings that become fine architectural pieces of art, with the purpose of holding and giving an inner portection and atmosphere to us humans.

Observing these huge buildings that support us, called skyscrapers and the amount of people in cue at fast food restaurants, rushing to eat, in their lunch time and their unique metro and train system, I remembered an article of the magazine American Science, that talked about how urban massive cities with a good amount of skyscrapers and people inhabiting vertically, is a pretty good design humans have come with in order to support a huge amount of human beings and consume the least amount of land possible, stacking up people vertically instead of horizontally ending with more people living in the less amount of space, measured by beings per square meter. Just as reference, Chicago´s population density shows 11,956 persons living by square mille, meanwhile Tokio, Japan stacks up to 16,095 persons per square mile and Mexico City 15,600.

The American Science magazine did a calculation of giving 2,500 m2 to each person of the usa, to build a sustainable home with orchard and little farm, resulting that the amount of people living in the us, will need the whole continent of America to live sustainable under these land portion parameters. The article also explained that stacking up the largest % of people in a city like these helps consolidate all the main basic resources we need to live such as: water, electricity, gas, food, etc, to supply the life basic resources in a common populated densed place like a Big Tall city as Chicago, meaning that costs are reduced drastically when consolidating resources to fulfill the amount of consumption masses generate.

After analyzing it for a while, it actually made sense, otherwise we wouldn’t have designed and constructed the cities as they are. When you think that maybe as humans beings, we are giving the best level of consciousness to our daily acts and of course if observing life with these perspective, you can already tell that there most be something wrong in the main design formula, because having to experience chaos in order to learn what the opposite of it is (order) and if we stick to these kind of learning method, will take a lot of “breaking things”, for us to evolve.

We have grand minds in our human tribe, minds that their power go far beyond what only the eye can see. I believe these minds have always being involved in our destruction-construction process and still when you put together many of these “great minds” to work, design, create and maintain our best forms of life, massive cities such as Chicago are built and become home to an infinite amount of different minds.

After few years foreigners of same backgrounds have gathered and created their communities and adapted their home spot kinda life to these new city dynamic and rules. You just find whatever you look for, from wherever in the world in a vast variety of communities such as China town, Mexican town, Russian, Rumanian, African American, budhist, hindu, etc, towns.

A bit of Chicago´s history: Around the 1920´s during ww1, there was a major expansion in the industry and these demanded lots of hand labor that attracted many afroamericans from south country, increasing dramatically from 44 K to 250 K between 1910 and 1930. This great migration had an immense cultural impact, called the Chicago Black Reinassance. Art, literature and music developed and thrived here, also racial tension and violence continued through these times.

When Prohibition era, also around 1920´s, Chicago became base of gangsters like Al Capone, Dion O´Banion, Bugs Moran and Tony Accardo battling each other and law enforcement’s against selling alcohol.

Chicago was also the first American city to have a homosexual-rights organization.

Its steel industry is huge and closest to Americans main steel industry zone located in Indiana, just aside of Chicago also feeding itself from Lake Michigan´s body of water. They call the steel industrial side of Indiana “the arm pit of usa”; it just doesn´t smell nice..

Nowadays its a huge financial district and base to many corporations and tech industries.

The city has parks everywhere and cycling routes, making it a quite nice bike ride through its downtown full of massive buildings and fine 20-21th century architecture.

Since it is located at the base of Lake Michigan, one of the three Great Lakes, it gets its water resource from it, having water treatment and pumping plants and underwater tubes that provide of fresh lake water to the whole city.

It is also a city of sailors, since the Great Lakes actually connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence river, better known as St. Lawrence seaway. And believe me when I tell you that the Great Lakes look and behave like the sea. They are simply huge, it is impossible to see one end from the other.

Every wednesday of summer they have the beer regatta and on weekends you can also see lots of sailboats having a ride at the lake.

Their winter is quite hard, since they receive the arctic wind currents coming straight down from Lake Michigan, freezing pretty much everything and keeping the zone on average temperatures of -5oC and snow covered.

I enjoyed biking around the city (in summer) and also taking the subway and trains to transport my self between kite spots around Lake Michigan. But the city life is just not for me and specially a massive one as Chicago´s. My thing is much more rural-roots, calm, dusty and surrounded by nature. The fact that they have Lake Michigan as there playground and water supplier is a key plus for these city, but its just an immense urban place for these simple kiter-wanderer.

Its very interesting to observe how by just being in these kind of American city, the culture just sucks you in and makes you wanna spend money eating somewhere out. I felt with appetite the whole time I was in the street. The problem is that just to sit down anywhere and have a meal, means at least 15 dls, so you can imagine how fast money goes if you let your self be driven by these material, physical illusions and tricky desires. Massive consumption system.

I had the opportunity to go to a baseball game of their home team the cubs, and came out horrorized not only for the fact of the slowness of the game, but more because of the amount of plastic used to refill every single beer, water or whatever drink you feel like having; every time you want a refill, you throw away the plastic cup you just used to get refilled in a new one. It just made me think of all the plastic wasted in all of their games regarding baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc, etc.. No wonder why the states is in the third place of the country carbon foot print ladder.

So, slowly started getting to know the main kite spots of Lake Michigan and throwing some lessons.

In summer the winds are more inconsistent than autumn or winter. Quite a shame, because the weather on summer is quite sunny and warm and the water of Lake Michigan is delicious fresh.

In two months we had 2 days of 15-18 knts only and most of the “windy” days, where filled up with a very light breeze that was created by the change of pressure between the temperature of the water of the lake, the temperature of the air and the temperature of the land, making it just enough to ride with big kites 15-17m.

Lake Michigan has several kite spots and surprisingly also wave spots, that in certain time of the year, because of the swell direction and some yetis created by humans or small breaks will create waist height to head height waves in some few but epic days of the year.

On the side of Michigan state, there’s these little lake shore town named Grand Haven, where the base of Mac Kite is. They threw their annual kite test fest where for few dollar entry fee you get to test all the new toys of the main brands. We where invited and lucky enough to live it with one nice windy day 15 knts of the whole weekend. Got to test different new kites and boards.

For my perspective, as a kiteboard instructor is important to keep the practice of three main points, so you can give the fruits of these practice to your students:

1. Keep your self updated of rapid changing and evolving kite industry.

2. Keep your self active in your own practice, so you can keep progressing in your own riding.

3. Keep the cool positive vibes.

The kiteboard is the main engine that has taken me to different spots of the world and keeps me more alive, healthy and happy. These is mainly due to its direct interaction with the elements. Learning how to respect them in order to then use them for empowering yourself with natural, fun, energy.

These trip as most of the ones posted before I owe them to kiteboard.

A gypsy kiters trip

After a lockdown of 2.5 months in the windy, dusty little town where we happened to experience this quarantine; we felt quite in need to

Read More »

Una cuarentena para quedarse

Y de pronto nos tenemos que encerrar y reducir significativamente la dinámica de vida a la que nos habíamos acostumbrado, aunque probablemente en este caso

Read More »