Lonely Planet declared Sri Lanka as the #1 country for travel in 2019. Then seven bombs were detonated.
As Kitesurfing nomads, the tragedy on Easter weekend didn’t deter. She Flies plans to stop by Asia’s best kitesurfing destination but we must admit, we were apprehensive. The media in the lead up was painting a picture of a dangerous place, and our families were pleading for a change of plans. It wasn’t until we landed down into a sadly sombre Colombo airport that we realised the devastating effect these attacks have on this country were very much still to come.
She Flies is on this beautiful island working on some partnerships and exciting projects for next year (follow us on Instagram to find out more) but realising the shattering effect on one of the biggest sources of income; tourism, we couldn’t help, but wiggle in an early She Flies event to show the world what they’re missing out on.
Have you ever Kiteboarded in a Saree? Probably not.
If you’re a little baffled, a Saree is a cultural icon to Sri Lanka and neighbouring India, worn beautifully by the woman adding dazzling colours to any wedding or event. What better way to celebrate this country by combining our two best elements of Sri Lanka – kiting and culture.
On Saturday, we invited She Flies girls (and guys) to the usually empty Kappalady lagoon with a bag full of Sri Lankan’s most beautiful Sarees. The sun was shining, the wind was on, and the atmosphere was electric as more and more were arriving with all of their toys and big smiles. Dil and his truckload of pals at Kitesurfing Lanka whizzed up the beach, Mawfeer and the gang at KiteKuda raced over the lagoon to join Marcel and us at Elements didn’t know what hit him when he just popped out for a quick wave ride upwind.
The dressing ceremony was serious stuff! Our favourite Kite House superstar Anais was in charge ensuring our sarees were tight enough to stay on, not so tight to be able to squat into that pesky board, had a harness sized gap and a safety leash clear of any obstacles. Once we were ready, the combination of colours from our electric kites and our shimmering Sri Lankan sarees, was dazzling, not to mention perfectly co-ordinated as shown by kite coach Fran.
Off they went one by one with a buzz of excitement. It wasn’t long before the yells came from across the lagoon as our riders were feeling the incredible weight of a wet saree!! But send the kite a bit harder, and everyone started to get comfy; back rolls, front rolls, dark slides, all with a flow of colour trailing behind.
We have a great video of coach Zac Andrews representing She Flies nicely as he unhooks through his front roll to blind with his snazzy purple saree whizzing round after him.
We had a brilliant day, and the photos do it perfect justice. The wind was the lightest we had seen since we arrived, but it was by far our best day yet. We are already talking about how we make this part of our weekly routine.
Imagine, as a local business owner, hearing that title from Lonely Planet – the number one country for travel. You look at that little pile of cash you have saved, and you start a surefire investment in preparation for the year – your year – new gear, marketing, new menus, maybe even build an extra hut ready for the plethora of guests that are coming your way.
You settle into a mornings admin sheltered under swaying palm trees and a crisp blue sky, and your inbox is full. Cancellation. Cancellation. Cancellation.
This is the reality here. The country will take years to recover, but we can help! As kiteboarders, there is no better time to come. The lagoons are empty, the flights are cheap, the wind is on every day – and it is safe. Don’t let the media deceive you; this is the reality of Sri Lanka – a place full of love, culture and some of the best kitesurfing conditions in the world.
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By Jen TylerItalian/Egyptian Jen Tyler grew up on the sandy beaches of the Red Sea and has been on the IKSURFMAG & Tonic Mag team since 2017.