Windy days in Matanzas
While I live in Santiago, I “split my time” during the windy season. What that really means (and those of you who practice, know) is that when the wind blows…I go. My life is planned around a forecast, driven by the weather… Spanish classes, training, plans with friends and even plans with my partner often get put on hold for this sport, this life, this calling.
I recently had one of my best weeks in Matanzas, and arguably the longest stretch of time I have spent at the beach without returning to the city.
I stayed at the Roca Cuadrada Hostel in Matanzas. Normally, I camp at the teaching spot in La Boca. Camping is free and I am always looking to save a little money if I can. However, the family that owns the spot had returned to the city for the school year and it didn’t seem quite as safe to camp by myself. A friend and fellow instructor had been asking about me staying at the hostel, so I figured I would check it out (at the very least, I could get a hot shower, which is something I missed terribly when I was camping…. Imagine spending a day in freezing water, with cold air temperatures, only to have a cold shower..).
The hostel is right on the beach and actually next to Surazu, a hotel and restaurant that never quite fit with my idea of the spot. If Surazu was overpriced and maybe even a bit snobby, the hostel was exactly the opposite. It has a simple enough design, but there is really everything you need (and it is super clean, which is impressive given the amount of sand that I am sure everyone drags around). There are plenty of common areas inside and outside. Outside is the best as you can choose to sit on a beach chair, bean bag or even a tree stump or just plop down on the sand. Is there no wind or waves? Well, there is a slack line… an indo board… yoga in the morning… or just relax in the kitchen and have a chat. There are two rooms where gear is stored (one with kiteboarding equipment and boards and another with just surf boards). There is even an area to hang up your wetsuit, harness, etc…anything that is wet and needs to dry.
One thing I had been really missing by having my own school (and by being so new to the place) is time spent with other instructors. I am most comfortable with other people who spend their time on the water (and in fact, many of my closest friends I know through kiting) and I was craving that again. Staying at the hostel was one of the best things for me. I had known some of the other instructors, but I got to know them better staying there and it had a great vibe. Everyone (the kiters, surfers, wind surfers and general beach bums) had a great vibe. It was fantastic spending time there.
I had not ridden in Matanzas until this point. Most of my time was spent in La Boca. I had ridden in Pupuya once, but (as most instructors understand) my personal sessions were mostly between lessons or a quick session right after a lesson in La Boca. I had been hesitant at first. I was waiting on a call from a student to let me know he was ready for a lesson. However, the temptation was too great as I was watching the others set up. I sent a quick message to my student that I would go out into the water for a bit.
Riding there was amazing. I had been stuck riding in La Boca…a river with super gusty wind. Matanzas was open ocean with cleaner wind. Once I got past the shore, the waves didn’t bother me. I love the feeling of just riding. Nothing beats riding out into the ocean with nothing in front of you, all you see is more ocean…. flocks of pelicans flying low along the water…and if you look back, you see big cliffs, large rocks jutting out of the ocean… it is incredible humbling and awe inspiring. While I don’t always appreciate the cold here, the ocean has a wild, raw aspect to me. It’s a feeling that is hard to describe.
During the weekend when my partner arrived, we traded the hostel for a quieter private room upstairs at a restaurant (Viento y Marea) in Las Brisas. I frequented the restaurant as it was close to La Boca and a student of mine stayed there before. It’s the kind of mom & pop place that you like to find. Your choices for food are limited, but cooked fresh and it’s always healthy. It’s a completely different vibe to the hostel- more quiet with an older crowd.
My days in Matanzas are spent teaching and relaxing-albeit last week I spent over 35 hours in the water in 6 days with some heavy windy…so my relaxing was more like crashing! It is certainly different to the tropical beaches I am used to, but it’s becoming a place I am growing to love.