20 January: While on Union Island, I couldn't quite escape the feeling that we were in a giant theme park. It must have been all those endorphins from kitesurfing and yoga, not to mention the knock-out punch... And taking the dinghy into the "dinky dock" (as I called it) through that little mini love tunnel, was like entering "it's a small world" at Eurodisney. The dinghy ride, above, was its own fairground attraction, sitting on a giant inflatable, plunging into eddying swirls and getting drenched in the process. Well, you get the picture here! I love the dramatic, elemental grey, contradicting the anodyne clear blue skies 24/7 pictured by so many back home when imagining Caribbean skyscapes. The photo was taken on our way back with PELIZENO from another kitesurfing lesson with Will. Ah that was fun. The wind was too strong for the kids to go in the water this time, but, rather knocked for six by the lesson yesterday, Francis and Isabelle were more than happy joining Zenon and Catherine flying a kite on land. Zenon's cousins had never kitesurfed before, but piggybacking on a history of wake boarding were up and away in no time. Xavier got into the groove too with Pete and his brother Thierry, while Lisa and I bobbed around in the shallow waters, setting the world to rights, and that would have been enough for me. But then, in the final hour, Will came back and asked if I would like to go right out into the bay and have a go on the board.
We took the boat farther than I’d been before and hopped in the water. I blotted from my mind the ray that had passed yards from my feet when practicing in the shallows the day before, and refused to wonder what else was brushing past my legs. The great thing about the sport, though, is that there is so much to concentrate on, such thoughts evaporate the moment the kite is clipped on. We began with some body dragging, practicing the infinity loops that take the kite out of the wind window into the power zone, the acceleration necessary to pull you up out of the water and onto the board. Then practicing flying the kite with one hand. The wind was a good 25 knots by then and it was no mean feat to try and harness that force with both hands. When Will was satisfied I had the hang of it sufficiently, he got the board out. The trick is to hold the kite with one hand steady above, in a neutral state, while putting the board perpendicular in the water and slotting in the feet. Will gave me a hand, threading his arms through mine to steady the board, while I wriggled and contorted to get my feet up and in that wouldn’t have been out of place in the acrobatics of a circus ring. Eventually in, I managed to get up and shoot forward a metre or two. Do you want another go? Absolutely. Again, and again. It was tiring work, but I was so close, dammit! Then the squall came. So absorbed in the task in hand I hadn’t noticed the darkening clouds. The rain pounded down as hard as the laughter and joy rising up. Let’s do this. I got up this time and stayed up for a good few seconds that seemed an eternity. Remember to squat Lucy! That’s the thing. Not to stand up straight. But then another gust caught me unawares, I went flying in the air and then headlong first into a spectacular clown prat fall. Apparently while doing so I executed a pretty neat reverse jibe, that could be seen from land. Apparently the secret is to put your weight on the wrong leg, something I managed to do instinctively! And then came the dinghy ride home, a real splash for us all... like the Viking Rapids at Legoland, epic.