E and I are in paradise spending time by the beach with great people and great food. There’s only one problem–E is trying to get me familiar with kitesurfing, a fast, equipment heavy, highly intimidating sport that simply can’t be learned in a few days.
E has spent four years learning to kitesurf by spending a month at a time in places that have good, consistent wind–South Africa, Maui, Costa Rica, Morocco, Vietnam (when you work for yourself, as he does, you dictate how many vacation days a year you get). Kiting is like snowboarding, where learning requires a week or so of consistent conditions and days of instruction and practice. Since we started dating, I’ve only had a day or two per vacation to dedicate to kiting, but if the wind hasn’t been strong enough, or too strong, or the instructor hasn’t shown up, or if a hurricane came whipping though–all of which have soured three different kitesurf vacations for me–then I couldn’t learn.
In between trying to decompress from my New York reality and sneak a caipirinha or two, I had five days in Brazil to learn to kite. At the end of the first day of lessons, I was tired, frustrated and wanted to spend my vacation doing less strenuous activities. The second day, I looked at that monstrous kite flapping in the wind and the waves crashing against the shore and I wanted to run back to the resort.
“Why does vacation have to be so HARD?!” I whined, tears welling in my eyes.
“Honey, if you don’t want to go out there, I won’t force you to,” E relented. “I just thought you’d like it. You kick ass at snowboarding. This is very similar.”
‘Kicking ass’ at snowboarding didn’t come easy, either. I was forced into snowboarding by another boyfriend who told me that if we were going to continue dating throughout the winter, I better learn to ride because he was spending every weekend in Vermont. I broke my wrist after my first lesson (the things you do for love). I healed, and the next season I became a better snowboarder than that snow bum boyfriend was. We broke up shortly after I mastered the mountain, but thanks to him I have enjoyed many awesome ski vacations with friends and less dictatorial boyfriends since.
E, however, didn’t want to force me to do something so we could spend time together, nor did he want to embarrass me or dictate to me what we could enjoy together. He grabbed my shoulders and made it very clear why he wanted me to kite: “I just want to spend all of my most beautiful moments in the most beautiful places with you. I love you, and I love kiting. I just thought I could merge the two.”
Damn. There was no way I could leave the beach. He had flown me to paradise and bought these lessons if only to spend time together. Even if I don’t master kiting, E would feel appreciated if I just tried. I felt a responsibility to at least finish the lesson.
So I got in the ocean. And out of nowhere, I somehow got on the board. And rode down the beach for a few seconds. “Otimo!” my instructor yelled. I actually had some fun out there. It would have been awesome if E saw me on the board, but he was already down the beach practicing his backrolls. Eh, good for him.
The Frango sandwich, coupled with French fries and a cold caipirinha, was the official post-kiting meal we ate every day at our hotel. It’s a simple chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato, yet with a Brazilian twist: corn, hearts of palm and shredded carrots. No, I didn’t make it, but E said it counts since I did sacrifice life, limb and pride for his favorite sport. “I’m so proud of you, honey. I’m so happy,” E glowed. I only got in two days of kiting this trip, but I haven’t completely ditched the sport. Perhaps I won’t cry before my next lesson.
1 grilled chicken breast
4 slices bread
4 slices tomato
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup corn
1 small bunch lettuce
1/4 cup hearts of palm
Grill chicken breast until slightly browned on both sides. Toast slices of bread. If desired, slather mayo on one side of each slice of bread (our sandwiches came with mayo on the side). Stack lettuce, then tomato, carrots, chicken, then corn and hearts of palm on bread. Top with other slice. Cut on the diagonal. Serve with French fries or chips.