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Charlie Brown in Paradise – Playa de Loquillo, Puerto Rico

Charlie Brown in Paradise

Playa de Loquillo, Puerto Rico

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A “pilot’s eye view” of kite flying on Playa de Loquillo
As professional kite flyers (yes, we get paid to do this) living near Lake Michigan, we love to fly kites on beaches and near the water – Grand Haven, Warren Dunes, and on the waterfront in Milwaukee among others. When we planned a winter trip to the beaches on the west side of Puerto Rico, our two Blue Moon Mojo stunt kites were included in our luggage. Despite TSA’s and the baggage handlers’ best efforts, the fishing rod case with our kites arrived in San Juan unharmed and on the same flight we did.

Our beachside apartment on Shacks Beach was more than we even dreamed it would be: the beach right off our deck, the ocean just feet from our door, a spectacular snorkeling reef a couple minutes walk and swim away.

For kite flying, though, it was not an ideal location. But what the heck! We were on eight miles of (mostly) uninhabited beach! There’s gotta be somewhere close by, right?

Well, not really. For 8 days we found beaches that were too narrow and winds that were way too strong for the low wind range kites we packed.

At the end of our last day on the island, we hit Playa de Loquillo, east of San Juan. THIS was the spot we’d been looking for: nice wide beach, gentle evening breeze from the east blowing down the length of the beach, setting sun and palm trees as a back drop, even an audience.

We kicked right into one of our choreographed pairs kite routines. It wasn’t quite the same for us without our music but the spectators didn’t seem to notice. Many had never seen two-line stunt kites before (surprising in a place where kite surfing is so popular) and were enthralled with our graceful synchronized maneuvers. We flew some maneuvers out over the water then turned back over the beach where two boys chased our (safely out of reach) kites.

At the end of a particularly smooth crossing pattern, I made a very nice turn down – right into the top of a very tall coconut palm.

So much for grace.

One of our Mojo kites over the water at Playa de Loquillo, Puerto Rico
One of our Mojo kites over the water at Playa de Loquillo, Puerto Rico
Many times, if a kite is not TOO stuck in the tree you can shake it loose and let the wind carry it out. I was lucky and the kite and one of its two lines came free. My kite was free but now spinning in a never-ending series of left circles.

I walked the kite forward, letting it come toward the ground. But the line was so high in the tree I reached a point where I couldn’t walk forward any more with letting go of the line – which would leave the kite dangerously out of control.

My wife and flying partner landed her kite and came to help. She took control with the now freed right line so I could let go of the left line. Now the kite was spinning in a never-ending series of RIGHT turns and getting closer to the ground – and spectators.

Using my little survival Spanish, I somehow made it clear to those in the kite’s path that this was NOT part of the show and that it would wise for them to move. Once the path was clear, it was a fairly simple matter to walk the kite forward to a point where I could safely catch it and bring it down.

Whew! No damage to kite, tree or people. After a few quick minutes adjusting equipment, we were back in the air, impressing the crowd once again.

As the last few moments of sunset lingered, I wanted a picture of our kites on the beach at water’s edge with the sunset behind them. As we worked to set the kites in the right position, an odd wave broke higher on the beach than the others, grabbed the kite, pulled it under water and then jammed one leading edge into the sand. I heard a distressing “snap” and watched the leading edge collapse.

Since we had no extra rods with us to replace broken ones, that was the end of our beach flying for this trip. Nothing left to do but pack ‘em up and go have a beer.

So much for the gringo professional kite flyers!

At the end of the day, the score was beach – 2, kite flyers – 1 (a great time while it lasted).

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