doesn't bother many Powerkiters though 10 hours of it in
a Jumbo eventually got me twitching. We ended up watching
the ceiling mounted TV showing a boring film while a disaster
movie went on around it!
When we did touch down it was 30°c and windy, the terrain
was mountainous which was good and we soon found the people
to be really friendly. The hotel was cracking, 27th floor
with a superb view over the town of Bogota with its skyscrapers,
banks and Presidential Palace.
The only glitch was I had NO LUGGAGE or
KITES!! This was to take two days to get back and it goes
without saying that it was an aggravation but to put a further
edge on the day we were then advised about the state of
the country we were about to perform in…
The country was still at war and that we
had to be vigilant at all times. I remember the mention
of kidnapping gripping my attention at the time particularly
as the handing over of the presidency was happening in a
few days time (on the same day as the festival).
Infact, heavily armed soldiers guarded the
Palace, our Hotel including reception area, stealing a towel
never crossed my mind!
On the day of the handing over of the presidency
18 bombs rocked Bogota and the Palace that we had filmed
that morning, on our return, had 2 holes in it from missile
attacks! We saw none of it we were checking out the town
and appearing at the Festival showing what kites and boards
Kiting is everything in this country. With
the help of Ines Uribe and Jairo at Yaripa (event organisers),
kites are being used as a form of serious recreation, play
and sport. The kites are sold or flown on every corner everywhere
you go, I've never seen such a concentration of kites being
flown virtually anywhere that was possible, bridges, roofs,
traffic lights, churches, roadsides - everywhere.
On reaching our destination we were introduced
to some of the local flyers and took a look at the local
wildlife including the menacing rhino beetle.
We were pretty eager to take a look at the
site where we were going to fly and to check out what the
conditions would be, being as we would be performing in
front of over an expected million people - we were all curious
as to how they would pack them all in!
The huge stadium had big arena tiers for
the public to view the action below them. Later nicknamed
the "Lion Pit" it was probably not the most ideal
spot but we all knew that with the wind blowing in the right
direction - the spectators were going to get a real insight
into kites from all over the world.
The day of the festival and the handing
over of the presidency in Colombia - party fever was high
- the sun was out and the wind was blowing - the perfect
start to a good day anywhere in the world..
All the streets were empty of cars and everyone
made their way to the festival anyway they could whether
it be cycling, running or soapcart. The festival was already
high with the morning's Samba music festival well underway
with its awesome sound system and everyone dancing.
With the crowd already
hyped by the music - as soon as it finished the kite festival
began. I was put on fourth in the display so the crowd were
already applauding but as soon as I launched my kite and
they could see its size and power the crowd were screaming
and applauding, when I started hopping across the tiled
arena as if defying gravity everyone knew they were about
to see something new. As soon as the board appeared they
were already chanting my name "Dan Eaton, Dan Eaton,
Dan Eaton" and this is even before I had even got into
a stance to begin riding.
Jeez, I'm going to have to really perform
now, they had seen buggying before but boarding they hadn't
so I tested their reaction by a doing a little hop and tweak
of the board the reaction was instant - the audience liked
the look of kite landboarding and made it clear that they
wanted more. This hyped me up and I was keen to show off
tacking back and forth pulling grabs and handle passes to
mass roars and screams from the crowd. A magic moment was
pulling off a huge no hander waving at them as I went through
the air and landing it perfectly - I even impressed myself!
The screams and commentary definitely does
something to you and when you hear your name being chanted
you cannot help but go on that bit more just to show them
the potential of the sport and with that I took a jump towards
the grouping photographers. Jumping high and going by all
but one of the lined up photographers in amongst a cheering
crowd I heard that unnerving thud.
The unlucky guy on the end was Derek Kuhn,
UK flyer and photographer, I managed to clip him on the
shoulder with my board. The clip knocked him to the ground
and the camera out of his hand along with my board spinning
off my feet. Both of us sprawled out on the floor I turned
to see that Derek has already stood up on adrenaline and
with hands in the air he was signalling to the crowd that
he was ok. The crowd applauded and began cheering even more.
They even liked the bad bits!
Assured Derek was ok I tacked back upwind
and went for a 720 handle pass, ending with me flipping
the board off my feet and landing horizontally. Ouch! Payback
time, the body armour took most of the blow but still resulted
in some serious skin grafting onto the pavement. My left
side, leg from hip to ankle took a right bruising but the
adrenaline was still flowing so I took a few more jumps
and tweaks to finish off my time in the arena and with that
I bowed to the crowd and let the following act take to the
stage. What a buzz!
Colombia is a great country that has some
really good sites and the amount of people flying kites
is always reassuring. This year we saw thousands flying
conventional kites, maybe next year they may even be flying
I had a hundred more experiences during
my kiteboarding trip to Colombia and it proved a major success
and a welcomed introduction to Colombia. Tragically until
this time the only time knowledge of Colombia is what I
had heard on the News and incidently, often of a negative
nature but good things happen here as well.
Report: Dan Eaton (Powerkiteshop)
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