You guys have heard about Humpty Dumpty right? The poor sucker that fell off the wall and needed to be put back together? Well, I’m the doctor that keeps putting the modern day Humpty Dumpty – Dimitri Maramenides, back together again. His stunts and big airs are not for the faint of heart, but when you push your limits at that level, altitude, and duration — you’re bound to get some bumps, bruises, gashes and hospital trips along the way. I mean, how many riders travel with a medical staff?
A recent adventure started with a phone call from Dimitri asking me to accompany him to Brazil. The trip was going to take us to several locations, most of which required riding in desolate areas, far away from civilization, and medical support. Now I’ve been treating Dimitri for a long time, and we’ve become fantastic friends, but I kind of akin my responsibility to that of a professional stunt coordinator — always telling him to pull it back a little, to be more safe. Dimitri only knows two speeds — 1000 miles and hour, and sleep. How could I say no? Without me, who knows what trouble he’d get into.
To say my wife was hesitant was a bit of an understatement. She’s seen the videos and knows Dimitri well. Plus, Brazil isn’t exactly within easy reach, or at least the spots we were going. With her ‘blessing’, I took 10 days off work and had my travel arrangements made. I’d soon be knee deep in ‘Dimitri’s Boot Camp’ for 10 solid, action packed… and potentially stressful days.
Packing for the trip was super easy. I crammed a few pairs of shorts, shirts and medical supplies in one carry on. Dimitri’s trips are well documented and if you’ve seen photos, you know he travels with enough equipment for a small army. So why bring mine? I’ll let him deal with the baggage fees! My journey started with a short flight to Florida where I met up with Dimitri, and then we were destined for Fortaleza, Brazil. When travelling to Brazil, nothing is direct. After a few stops, and more time than I’d care to spend on a plane (12 hours), we touched down. This was an exciting opportunity for me as I’ve never been to Brazil, and was looking forward to the adventure.
Gustav Schmiege, our photographer, met us in the airport where we exchanged our US dollars to the Brazilian currency called Real. 1 US dollar is equal to about 3.2 Real. Dimitri suggested that we exchange $800 Real as most vendors don’t accept credit cards.
We piled into a large mini van taxi given the amount of gear that both Dimitri and Gus brought. A hot, crammed 35-minute trip finished at Cumbuco which would act as home base for the first leg of the trip. Marc Rowley, the Epic Kites UK dealer joined the group here to act as a product tester and join in on the fun. We stayed 2 nights at a nice place called Cumbuco Guest House and met local surf legends Yury Manzon and Diego dos Santos from Cumbuco Board Riders, an adventure company offering both kite and surf packages. Dimitri hired them for 8 days to take us on a truly epic adventure using one of their 4x4 cars to access some remote riding spots. The first spot had us travelling 6 hours North to Jericoacoara. However, we broke up the trip and stopped at some amazing places like Pecem, Taiba, Prea, Jericoacoara, Paradaisio lagoon, Guriu, Tatajuba and Barre Grande on the way. These were some ideal locations for photo shoots and demos.
Some of you may have heard of ‘Dimitri’s Boot Camp’, which is a name that Dimitri had dubbed for people that dared to travel or stay with him. It’s a crazy pace that starts 6:30 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Dimitri has more energy than the Energizer bunny, and if you’re not awake at 6;30, he’ll do anything to get you up — which usually involves the antics being filmed. If you fall asleep before 9 p.m., make sure to lock your room door or else you’re in for a surprise the next day morning. I ended up sharing a room with photographer Gus and Dimitri shared quarters his UK dealer, Marc Rowley.
Gus knows Dimitri very well and shared some Boot Camp tips. Exhausted from the first day, we locked our door because you just never know. We awoke at 6:30 to someone trying to break in to our room, clearly a first prank attempt. The intruder, AKA, Dimitri, was caught red handed with a screwdriver, attempting to gain access. Nice try. We were ready.
After an energizing breakfast at the Cumbuco Guest House, we loaded the Cumbuco Board Riders 4x4 and hit the road by 8. Our first stop was a wave spot a short distance from Cumbuco where we rode for three hours before moving on to the Taiba Lagoon, which was packed with riders. We decided to go to the other side of the lagoon where there was a little more space. Cumbuco and area is known for average winds that range from 15 to 20 mph winds. Using 14/12 and 10 meter kites is great if you stay in the area. If you go further north the wind gets stronger.
By 6:50 p.m., we were the last group at the lagoon. As we start packing we realized that one of our tires was flat and that the vehicle didn’t have a spare. The adventure company had us covered and sent another car to get us, but that happened to be a two-hour wait. It was pitch black out by the time it arrived. This is where things got very scary. While we were waiting and taking pictures and videos, the two local drivers told us to turn off all our phones because of the light they were creating. They did not want people to know we were on the beach because people have been victims of harassment and robbery. In the distance we saw two sets of headlights heading towards us. Yury and Diego, our guides told us to grab something hard that we could swing in the event of a confrontation. This is when I began to panic and started looking for a place to hide my phone in case these guys stole everything from us. I can just hear my wife’s words now… Suddenly Dimitri looked at me and asked me what I was doing? I told him I was digging a hole to hide my phone. He told me to just get ready — it’s going to be an EPIC night. Yury and Diego walked towards the lights leaving us at the car. We wanted to show that we were a large group. My adrenaline was pumping. It felt kind of like a gang movie. After a short verbal exchange, Yury and Diego returned telling us that everything was good. What a relief. My heart was pounding like it was my first date! The next challenge before we left was to try and find my phone! It almost reminded me of the scene from Stand By Me where the kid couldn’t find his jar of pennies… and you didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Finally, we located my phone, changed the tire and were able to make our way home. This was now 9:45 p.m., and we were all starving. Dimitri is always focused on customer service and had us all wait for an hour while he checked emails to make sure nothing needed his attention. By then we were all showered and ready to go eat. By 12:30 a.m., we returned home from dinner and he again returned to the computer to check emails before finally retiring. This is only day one… I’m not sure I’ll survive the rest of the trip.
The next morning, I woke up very early because of the jet lag and found Dimitri still working at the same table with the same clothes on. I asked him if he got any sleep, which he claimed he did. But not one to delay, he told me to hustle as the drivers were picking us up in 40 minutes, and I was tasked with waking the rest of the crew. Yury and Diego arrived on schedule and were astonished at the amount of equipment that needed to be loaded. We had the roof stacked so high that it looked ready to topple, and there was still an abundant amount in the car itself. I wasn’t sure if there was actually any room for people. We got in the car somehow and drove north to our first stop and did a 2 hour down winder from Taiba to Paracuru. Then we packed the car and drove another hour and a half to a very nice kite club called Pousada Pura Vida Club Brazil in Ilha do Guajiru where Dimitri’s friend Joseph Carneiro leads the operation. This place was simply amazing. So good in fact, that we stayed for two days. If you make it to Brazil, be sure to check it out.
Our next destination was Jericoacoara. This involved a two-hour drive on the main road, followed by another hour off road. That’s kind of how you have to roll in Brazil. Most of the great spots require an off-road car. It was getting late but Dimitri decided to stop and kite on a beautiful lagoon called “Lagoa Paraiso” which was near the town of Prea before carrying on to Jericoacoara. The drive from Prea to Jericoacoara is crazy in the dark because most of it is simply driving along the beach. I could hear the ocean 10 feet a way from me, which was mostly our only compass. We finally rolled into Jericoacoara at 9:30, exhausted and found a solid place to stay. The next morning Dimitri let us sleep in until 7:30 a.m. After breakfast, the goal was to to do a down winder in the ocean from Prea to Jericoacoara while the truck was following us on the beach. Jericoacoara is a beautiful and unique town. All the streets are sandy, and some of the stores will have sand on the floor which has an allure all it’s own.
The down winder was awesome, but we lost Dimitri at one point because his kite fell right next to a section of huge rocks, near a cave. He screamed at us to continue the down winder all the way to the Jericoacoara dunes and not to worry. I thought that I might have to put my medical skills into action, but to my surprise, Dimitri and Gus were with the car waiting for us. Before landing my kite, Dimitri decided to borrow it and and beach start from the Jericoacoara dunes. That’s quite a bit of vertical and distance to ensure a safe landing. The lunatic. I’m guessing he still had some energy given that his down winder ended early. Jericoacoara was our home base for 5 nights as it’s an amazing place and is in close proximity to several riding locations. There is also abundant and vibrant night life for those energetic enough to enjoy it all. I was so tired that I totally passed out — big mistake. The next morning, I woke up to the sight of my beautifully painted toe nails. I almost spit coffee through my nose when I was surprised by the curses from Gus who discovered he’d suffered the same fate. I guess we forgot to lock our door. Lesson learned.
Over the next 4 days we rode some stunning places. To access some of them, you had to put your car on a tiny wooden barge and float it across the river to the other side. It seemed precarious to me, but it was another opportunity for Dimitri to up his game and get some great shots. As we’re floating across, Dimitri would repeatedly jump the barge or go huge and loop it. He probably got some good shots of us too. From there we had access to kite at the lagoons of Tatajuba and Lago de Jijoca where we where able to score some amazing fish for lunch. Our last stop ended in Brarre Grande where we were treated really well at BGK Pousada. The intention was only to stay for the one night, but with a flexible schedule and the great time, we extended it to two. Brazil is an amazing place, and if you get the chance, I’d highly encourage you to visit the top riding sports, or book an adventure tour with experienced guides. Note that, kite vacations always need a recovery vacation after you return home. It was truly a blast, but I’m pooped. Thanks Dimitri. Looking forward to the next one.