The Scene

Langebaan was once a sleepy fishing village resting in a protected part of the extensive Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast of South Africa. This is a part of our coastline that has a distinct Mediterranean feel.

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Fynbos creeps towards the water and cottages along the beach cling to their old-world charm, family treasures – handed down from one generation to the next.

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The once quiet village has now grown into a popular holiday location for Capetonians  and the traditional ‘fishing village’ part of town has been contained behind quaint shale walls which in return are surrounded by holiday mansions and golf developments. Langebaan also has wind and has become a destination for international travelers to South Africa in search of kitesurfing skills – drawn to the weather conditions, gorgeous landscape and our ever weakening currency.

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While no longer a village, Langebaan still alludes to a quiet demeanor when the weather is calm…. but when the wind blows, the tempo rises a notch or two…

IMG_3512and the kite surfers come out to play.

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This happens pretty much every day…during the windy season.

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To catch Shark Bay looking like this you need to hit it early because by 15 knots around Noon this kite crèche is filled with white horses and beginners.

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But even Shark Bay at its busiest cannot compare to ‘The Scene’ going on at Main Beach!IMG_3425

With the wind come the vehicles loaded with students and gear from every kitesurfing school in the area, and with the students come the instructors with their foreign accents and mouth pieces. They strut militantly along the waters edge, in a stressful fashion yelling instructions to their students,

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who try desperately to listen, remain untangled and out of the rip, while fighting ‘the fear’. In addition there is the added accessory of the ‘dedicated boat guy’ ready and waiting to come to your rescue – for a fee of course which is definitely not calculated in South African Rands… IMG_3442

And all of this is on a quiet day. Over one hundred kites are said to be in the air at any given moment over season’s peak.

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And when you are done for the day you simply retire to one of the restaurants that line the shore, or better yet, settle in at a trendy singles-style Flash Packer Venue and hang around the pool with gorgeous internationals lounging on colourful, giant bean bags in tiny swim wear..Langebaan is an experience worth checking out…

But while That Scene continues,

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we head on home to Our Scene, along a wilder part of the coast line,

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where you find cows on the beach instead of fancy vehicles and smart restaurants.

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And there is no boat rescue crew in sight.

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Where the Papa is the instructor, and the lagoon small, but uncrowded,

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and the mood…….well it’s simply chillaxed.

Celebrating Sleepy Chintsa, its Uncrowded Scene and kite lessons for the girls. Late 2014 / Early 2015

 

Gift

A surprising gust of winter wind had me hauling the kites onto the beach in late June. It had been a while. The summer east winds transform into calming westerlies over the winter months, soothing the sea – great for surfing but useless for kiteboarding. Gear, usually dumped by the door ready to be grabbed at pace gets folded and packed away for a while.

Having not flown for sometime, these surprise re-entries into the sport can be a tad disconcerting and I have to remind myself what to do….I find that the rituals of the set up process help me manage my adrenalin. I don’t like to rush – launching a 9 square power kite in 20 knots of wind, only to find that your safety line isn’t connected can distract from the fun.

My hardcore wingmen find my pace a bit tiresome at times, but they cope;) Being the only girl on the water seems to have created an obligation on their part to ‘keep an eye’, further entrenched by their ongoing need to have rescued either myself or my gear at times during various learning curves. I guess letting me drown just wouldn’t do really… bless them.

A winter kiting session wakes up your stomach muscles. For days after I cringe in pain every time I get a ‘mommy hug’ around the middle.  All worth it.

Wind was never my favourite thing. I have enough noise in my head without the additional distraction. But over the last few years my view has changed….An afternoon of 16-25 knots of steady east is fantastic and because we are not endowed with the regularity of the monsoons, when it does blow all else is put aside because there is no guarantee when it will blow again, no matter what Windguru.com promises…. Kiters completely get this.

Eric taught me to fly. He has given me some cool gifts in our time, but this one is ‘The Bomb’. Hours and hours of commitment and sacrifice. It takes a strong man to drag his wife around by the scruff of her harness along a lagoon bank, tolerating her stream of fear-induced verbal abuse for an extensive period of time while his buds are in the ocean kiting giants along the backline….but them he is one of the best.

Eric Kitesurfing

I am by no means a good kiter but am gradually becoming more competent, braving the water, even when Eric is away- although I do get major support from my backup wing-man also known as ‘High’ 😉 which I do appreciate!

Nowadays when I crash the kite and get dragged back to shore by size swell, gasping for air each time I get hammered by another set pushing me through the impact zone, Eric stands on the beach with his hands in the air and a ‘what are you doing ???’ look on his face – as opposed to rushing into the water to rescue me like before – I have chosen to understand this as progress…I think?!

I am deeply grateful to Eric for taking the time and having the patience to teach me. It has enriched my 40’s immensely in many ways – but it is a shared gift.

He no longer has a wife, waiting at home, frustrated at his long kiting absences, and what to get me for my next birthday? Seriously – no issues there either….

Thanks Baby!

Celebrating Winter Kiting Sessions and Special Gifts – Chintsa June 2013

Rich Kids

Warm up run

Steady rain throughout the Easter Weekend,challenged those of us spoilt by the amazing autumn weather that we have been having this year.

All over it!

However when one lives amid the poverty of an informal settlement like many of the kids of The Unstressed Surf School this level of rain can result in general unpleasantness, disorder and chaos.

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But then yesterday, the last saturday of the Easter holidays, broke out balmy and bright –

The full wrap

a perfect autumn morning on Chintsa Beach.

Gear

Ready for a bit of sunshine  and with still wind and small waves the conditions were just right for a boat ride and perhaps a dolphin sighting or two.

Warm up yoga with Ash

THis isn’t the first time that the kids have been taken out on the boat and they are starting to become familiar with the wrap as their exposure to the sea and its vessels expands.

Girl TeamWhile teams of three went for a cruise,

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others took to the surf,

Wave hunting

rounding off the morning,

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with a spat of beach touch rudgy in true South African style.

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As Mike of AHJ, Surf School project co-ordinator and leader said to me this morning while reflecting on yesterday’s session – ‘It was a rich day for kids’. And indeed it was. It is good to be reminded that wealth comes in many disguises.

Celebrating Wealth – Easter Holidays in Chintsa April 2013

Play-Time

With ‘The Best Papie in the World’ working far away for the larger part of the past six months, we have had to make the most of his brief and precious visits home. Shortly after he arrived home recently, summer, in a celebratory mood, embraced the day.

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And so we did what we do best together – PLAY! The dolphins joined in.

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Two and a half weeks of warmth and fun.

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Memories to carry us through Christmas until we are together again in the new year for more family adventure.

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Celebrating Togetherness: Chintsa – November 2012

The Shape Of My Heart

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There are various theories about the origin of the symbolic ‘heart’ shape that we use to represent feelings of warmth, love and passion.

The shape of the human heart is quoted as one possibility although the resemblance is slight. Perhaps it was inaccurately represented by ancient scribes and then badly edited in the hand-down process. Who knows?  Apparently cattle hearts, which these ancients might have had more access too are slightly closer in representation to the modern-day symbol.These may also have played a role.

A commonly held view is that the seed of the prized Sliphium plant, a fennel-like wonder-boom used by the Cyrenean’s of old as a contraceptive and aphrodisiac (most convenient, I’d say) –  was the life-breath of our modern-day heart symbol.  This seed, also used as a seasoning and for various medicinal purposes proved to be fickle when it came to its own reproductive capacity, refusing to grow anywhere except along a small coastal Mediterranean strip. Its rarity of course upped its economic value, prized to the point of having its heart-shaped image embedded into Cyrenean coins. It is not a stretch to imagine the jump from aphrodisiac, contraception, sex, love….<3

No matter where the heart shape actually originated from, today it is a couple of swirls and curls that bring on the fuzzies the world over, and certainly the sliphium seed is not natures only illustration. The necks of swans at play, the mating slugs on our window pane,

and Lili’s gifts of love for her Mama… brought back home from each visit to the beach…

Celebrating the Shape of Love – Chintsa November 2012

“Up In The Sky”

Eric started flying shortly after I fell pregnant with Sarah. Seven months on, I felt the pull of a power-kite for the first time and went bouncing along the beach on my belly…luckily we all came out of it intact. Not one of my smarter moves, but then hopefully one learns from the knocks….

Our baba arrived safe and sound and from very little, spent time wrapped in my arms, sheltered in alcoves along the beach, watching Papa learn to jump. He became quite good and jumped extremely high.

One of her first sentences was, ‘Papa, up in the sky!’  repeated each morning at first glimpse of the ocean.

Now Sarah is tall and strong,

and beginning to give kiting a whirl herself.

And I suspect it won’t be long till she,

like her Papa is also spending time ‘up in the sky!’

Kiting with Sarah and Leah – Chintsa Beach, September 2012

Saturday on Chintsa Beach

There was a time when my perfect Saturday was one spent in my restaurant kitchen prepping for the evening seating and the Sunday rush. Apron, knife, fresh veg and the weekend menu. Heaven.

Now that I am on a little restaurant break my Saturdays are spent on Chintsa Beach with family, friends and the kids of The Unstressed Surf School. A different kind of heaven, but heaven none-the-less.

 Chintsa Beach is different to the beaches that I spent most of my time on as a child. Chintsa Beach is just the right amount of wild.

 This beach is not tropical enough to draw a  regular crowd. It has no super-wave to be called a surfers paradise, nor provides enough man-made entertainment for the townies. So wild it remains. These benefits are well understood and we don’t complain. The peace and the sea-scape holds us.

Saturdays on Chintsa Beach come with regular surprises. Recently Tom The Clown honoured us with an ad hoc visit after his Saturday morning surf.

 He took the kids through their circus moves.

 Surfing requires balance and focus but sometimes it requires circus acts…

On any given Saturday, even now with the season’s change and the winter west blowing its chilling off-shore breeze – the locals are out.

Taking it in.

Seeping it up.

Making it their own.

Chintsa Beach, A Saturday in May, 2012