A rider random story

Chapter 2

Emilie Marx a rider random storyI was asked on this second chapter on TP to share my story: I did warn Thierry that if he wanted a short one, mine may be wasn’t the best pick… :)

I grew up in France, funnily in an area far from the ocean, but I was always called a fish: keen swimmer at my youngest age, I became open water diver as a young teenager.
My parents passed on to me their love of travelling, giving me the chance to discover many countries and cultures before I even was an adult.
I consequently left home as soon as I officially became one. 

I started my journey with a wild year in Amsterdam (I partied so much I stuffed myself for the rest of my life (so I could tick that one off the list)). 

I then moved to Egypt, because I wanted to experience something radically different - and it surely was.
I got strongly attached to the land; there was something magical about it.
It’s there someone randomly threw me on the back of an Arabian horse one day, which resulted in a passionate crush that led to most of my destination choices the following years (that I spent working with Arabian horses).

Like most of Atheist young adults, I guess, I went through an unconscious phase of belief indecision; so after having discovered –more by accident than by genuine choice- the Muslim way of thinking, I went to spend some time in Israel.
I have stunning memories of Jerusalem: it’s one of those cities one’s got to see once in a lifetime.
Powerful, vibrant.

Emilie Marx a rider random storyI lived between Sinaï and Israel for almost a year. 
If I had to mention one striking event, I almost drowned in Tel Aviv during a massive swell day.
I had only meant to go for a swim –and was a confident swimmer.
I got literally sucked away from the shore in a matter of seconds, ended up at the line up, perfectly unaware of how to handle the giant swell, with what looked like ceiling high waves pounding on me and that’s when underneath current sucked me straight down. 
I can still see that picture of the day light fading somewhere above me, way too far, way too high…
I really thought that day that I was never going to make it back up.
It taught me humility and respect, but also left an unspoken terror.

Emilie Marx a rider random storyI then stayed in Thailand a little while and next moved on the other side of the globe, to the US.
Mixed circumstances of unhappy marriage, lack of driving license and a hard time working out the American dream, ended up not leaving unforgettable memories of my stay.
I was missing the desert, the ocean, the freedom.

Certain truths take a bit of time to sink in and unhappiness isn’t always an easy thing to admit. That takes my story a couple of years later: I returned to my home country where I stayed just long enough to get the Art Degree I wanted ever since I was a child -but which I had refused to go for, perfectly convinced it wouldn’t get me anywhere.
Solely to prove myself wrong on that topic, I managed to survive from my Art work the following year that I spent in Tunisia (I insist on that particular verb though), where I ended up randomly -as usual-, attracted by the beloved mix of desert and Arabian horses.

I then went back to Egypt, where I had always meant to return to, and that’s where I started kiting.

Emilie Marx a rider random storyHow I fell into kitesurfing was a genuine accident and absolutely not a personal decision, as I actually never intended on taking a kitesurfing lesson to start with (and barely knew about the sport…).

I was then a tutor for expatriated kids, riding horses and diving in my spare time, making ends meet by giving language courses.
A watersport base owner, a young Swedish woman, enquired about having French lessons: I have always thought that in a perfect world, people would trade skills rather than exchange money, which is what I offered her. I had been diving my head off the past months and was keen on doing something different.
She offered me windsurfing lessons. But after a few tremendously boring afternoons, I had to tell her this probably just wasn’t for me…
So she thought she’d hook me on a kite. And that’s what she did.
That’s how I flew a kite for the first time, not having a clue then of how much it was going to affect my life.

I got hooked. Truly.

Emilie Marx a rider random storyI remembered saying for months while back in France, that I missed the Egyptian wind.
During my first stay there a few years earlier, I used to go riding in the desert at night, blissfully feeling the wind blowing on my face and trusting my horse’s sight.
There was something magical about that moment and the wind there, I couldn’t work out what it was, I just knew I had to go back there.  Because of the wind.

This strange call only made sense years down the track, when I thought about it again once I was a kitesurfer…
The horse got replaced by a kite… but I kept on riding…..
Up to now, I still compare the wind to a wild horse (I like that picture), something lively you’ve got to work with (not against).
Respect its power and nature and use them to your advantage...

I became a kitesurfing instructor within the following year.
I did one season in Safaga (two female instructors handling a kitesurfing boat - fun memories!), the next one in the Philippines, then Fiji.

Emilie Marx a rider random storyAfter failing to set up my own school there, I ended up in Australia which became, and remains so far, my greatest love. 

Oz is to me (one of) the greatest places on earth.
There is something larger than life about the country and am grateful for the two and a half years I got to spend there.
Oz did change my life as it made me win one of my greatest personal challenge ever.

I am today the keenest wave rider you will ever find, when I can clearly remember what I thought –and felt- the first time I saw what locals were pointing out to me as “the kitesurfing spot where everyone goes” in North Sydney -a two meter high shore break-.
I had never kitesurfed in waves. Ever…
 “This is going to be a nightmare”….  

I was terrified the entire first year.
Not being a wave rider had a price in Sydney (may Mother Nature forgive me for my carbon foot print that year): 3h in a car every day to reach the only flat water spot of the city (Botany Bay).

Emilie Marx a rider random storyI tried to get into surfing: I was fascinated. Terrified and fascinated.
I felt like a cat in a washing machine and seriously wondered what my mates really meant when asking me if “I had had fun”. I eventually broke my nose with my Malibu, which gave a real good excuse to stop…

Good things take time.
Australia eventually made me a surfer, which was the one thing I would never have gambled on.
I got over it. I’m not the greatest surfer, but I surf: that’s all that matters…

I can’t tell you exactly what clicked when, kitesurfing wise, but the most epic sessions I can remember were in 3m swell -and they were some of my most intense and unforgettable moments, ever.
I still think of them with a “wow” feeling and a silly grin on my face…

Emilie Marx a rider random storyAnd that’s the beauty of kiting: watching someone doing something, thinking “man, I wish I could do that”, and finding yourself doing it few months later.
Impossible is nothing but a concept…

I have the coolest memories of Oz….
Being too cold in Sydney during winter, I used to go kiting in North Queensland.
I’ve always considered North Queensland as a huge step for one’s kitesurfing learning curve. At least, it surely boosted mine.
The first time I saw a tiger shark’s dorsal fin popping out next to my board in the muddy water, I probably did my greatest speed run ever… and magically, I didn’t miss much landings after that day…
Yeah… Body dragging was a brand new experience in Port Douglas (who’s lunch time is it, the shark’s or the croc’s?).
I came up with the theory sharks were very helpful for one’s learning curve…  

I worked couple of years for the national Australian Importer of two big kitesurfing brands.
Giving up my outdoor lifestyle was hard on me, and I found there were way too many  political issues involved with the industry -which I wished I could still see as the “happy family” I had first found in kiting.
Bottom line was that I wanted to ride…  I lasted the time I lasted before realising that watching the trees moving through the window while packing kites for others to have fun with, being perfectly miserable, may be just wasn’t for me…

Emilie Marx a rider random storyI’ve quit the industry 6 months ago, not being sure of what would be coming next (it was a painful call; the kitesurfing industry was my home).

I went to Key West a little while, and then-randomly, for change- arrived to the Caribbean.
That’s how Saint Martin eventually crossed my path -following a hop by the BVI’s. 
I had been ”Frenchophobic” for years, stubbornly refusing to go to any French speaking country, but I had heard the kiting was good there.

The island turned out to offer wind, waves, a gorgeous underwater world, a very interesting cultural mix with the benefit of French food minus the French attitude…
This made me want to stay.
And then the quality of the wind and the beauty of the riding sites actually got me to stay.

The first time I saw “Le Gallion”, all I thought was: “wow, what a spot…” 
And it’s still what I think every single time I go there.

I’ve been leading a transient life for over a decade now and it’s been…
What’s the word?

Emilie Marx a rider random storyThe world is the best school of all, and I’m feeling extremely lucky to have experienced all the things that I have. 
Good or bad, it surely made me who I am today, and I think that what happens only is 10% of the big picture.
The way we react to it and take it in makes up the other 90%... 

I remember I once said: “Paradise is a boring place.”
I guess I’ve either changed my mind or my conception of paradise…
This surely is the best quality of life I’ve ever had.
It has felt like an endless holiday since I got here... 

I plan on making this last forever…

Emilie Marx, St Martin, November 2008

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