This is a story of friendship, love and adventure...
A group of friends put their trust, their money and - indirectly - their lives in my hands, and I took us all to Caracas, Venezuela, where we were transported across the city in trucks that had holes in them that looked very much like bullet holes. We all survived.
I must admit, if the holiday was a success it was more by good luck than by good judgement. I'd like to say that it was effective delegation that made the difference, but really, I just outsourced the problems to an excellent local guide - Alejandro Battistini - who was trying to make a name for himself and the island of Coche, off the coast of Margarita island, South of the Caribbean.
Having been to both islands on a couple of occasions before, myself, I was familiar with the way things worked as a traveller in a small group. Having a huge group was a different logistical proposition all together, however.
I negotiated a seemingly sizeable deal with American Airlines in order to get nearly 20 people plus 20+ kiteboards, and perhaps as many as 50 giant kites, to our destination without incurring costly excess luggage fees. When we came to try and fly to a small group of coral sand islands called Los Roques, I knew that we would be taking an extremely small turboprop plane and weight would be an issue. I tried to impress upon the group the importance of travelling light, but when the airline staff saw a gigantic pile of bags, they baulked at the prospect of a sketchy takeoff.
This was a big blow to the group, and to make matters worse, there was then a lull in the wind and we found ourselves killing time on the beach without enough wind to kitesurf even with our biggest kites. Everyone should have been very annoyed with me, and I felt really bad that things had not worked out.
What's bigger than a big kite? Two big kites. Instead of letting me feel all embarassed and sheepish about everyone sat around on the beach, the gang helped me with the crackpot idea of flying two kites at once to get twice as much power. I was the only one who got to try it, as it needed so many people to help me launch the kites but make sure I didn't get launched into outer space by 26 square metres of bi-kite. That was an inspiring piece of alturism on the part of the group.
The most fun I've ever had with my clothes on. Thanks guys & gals! (April 2005)