October 26, 2005

Windsurfing at 6000 ft

At an altitude of 6000 ft above sea level, the man-made lake at the Dique Cuesta del Viento in Rodeo, Argentina offers some of the best windsurfing in the world. With constant winds between 40-60 mph almost every afternoon, it is a haven for hardcore windsurfers.

Of course, that was where Jonathan wanted to go to windsurf.

We stayed at the Rancho Lamaral, a hostel near the beach with shared bathrooms, bunk beds, and free breakfasts for $10 a night. The owner (also the bartender, repair guy, and windsurfing teacher) Manuel, was warm and wonderful. He´s sort of a hippie, an ex-insurance salesman who gave it all up to run his hostel and to windsurf.

The lake is a perfect mirror of the surrounding mountains in the morning, with barely a breeze. Because of the geography, the winds come and swoop down into the valley every afternoon. The windsurfing pros come out, and it was awe inspiring to watch them zoom around and do aerial flips. The winds were so strong one afternoon that I could barely stand up straight. It was like standing in hurricane force winds- and yet, the windsurfers were out there having a blast.

I admit I was nervous about taking windsurf lessons. I really had to browbeat myself into it, overcoming my still very strong aversion to water. I literally thought to myself, “Are you a sissy? A girl? When the hell will you ever again have the chance to windsurf in the Andes at a premier windsurfing site?¨

It turns out that I have naturally good balance, and stepping on a windsurf board (la tabla) felt as stable as stepping on land. Trying to understand directions in Spanish (even with Jonathan translating) was tough: words for forward, back, rudder, bow, lean, point, swing, balance etc…

I didn´t fall in even once. Poor Jonathan had a bit of a harder time getting up on the board, but by the end of two days, we were able to get on, surf a bit in the breeze, and return to the beach reliably. The lessons were cut short once the real wind appeared.

It has become a small joke in the 3 days we were here with Manuel – he likes to say that my hair wasn´t even wet, while Jonathan repeatedly sploshed into the water (accompanied by repeated hand motions of falling over on a board). Jonathan gave me a big hug, and said ¨Te amo, pero te odio¨ (I love you, but I hate you). :)

2 Comments

  1. oh how exciting … wish i was there too … isn’t windsurfing a blast? got to do some while in nevis once where i convinced the four seasons people to borrow their board and get a lesson too for under 50 us dollars …. it was off season and i think they just wanted me out of their hair

    Comment by stam — October 29, 2005 @ 5:30 am

  2. [...] I have taken a shot at sky diving, land sailing and wind surfing. I plan on climbing Kilimanjaro and bungee jumping from Victoria Falls. For me it is an adventure, but it is really off-the-shelf adventure. Every so often I come across somebody who is doing something really creative, really “out there”. [...]

    Pingback by World Unfurled… An entrepreneur sells his company to travel, taking a trip from Antarctica to Zaire. » Swimming to Cambodia? That’s nothing. — November 1, 2005 @ 10:09 pm

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