September 26, 2009

Headed to Manta or Santa Marianita, Ecuador to learn to kitesurf?

I encourage you to read this first. I had an extremely negative experience, and feel like I flushed $300 down the toilet. Kitesurfing school review comin' up...

GREAT instructor and school:
Wladimir (Vlad) Paternina & Nicole
Humboldt Kites School
091 272509 (cel in Ecuador)
011 593 91 272509 (from the USA)

I strongly recommend this school because of their fairness of price, quality of teaching, and high level of professionalism. And they have a pimp VW bus, too. :)


My experience at Robert Bedoya and Ecuador Kitesurf was a complete disappointment.

He is, certainly, an excellent kiteboarder.
However, his caliber of teaching and professionalism lack greatly.

Unfortunately his lessons include no overview, no handouts, and no concrete information. I need verbal explanation. He prefers to reach over me and fly the kite himself, trying to have me "feel" the kite, without explaining what I am to be doing.
I asked about the emergency pull cord many times. Four times on the beach he pulled it; never did he offer me to do so myself. This seems a poor way to introduce a new student to water emergencies.
Iit was not until I was six hours into the course that I found he speaks English. It would have been tremendously helpful to have kitesurfing's technical information shared with me in his native tongue.
At this point I spent 20 minutes speaking with his partner, Alice. I learned a great deal because she understood my questions and could directly answer them. Rob is, again, an excellent boarder, but seems too advanced to know how to explain the basics to beginners.
I went home and watched videos on YouTube for an hour. I learned more then than in my entire six hours on the beach with Rob. I learned about angling the board, surfing with the wind, handling, etc.

My fourth class was with a different instructor, Danilo. He and Rob use different Spanish terms; one says release while the other says hold for the exact same movement. It was difficult to adapt. Either way, Danilo was much better at communicating in Spanish and directly answering my questions.
Last, often my helmet was so big that I had to keep adjusting it with my hand. The harnesses were likewise very large and uncomfortable. It became difficult to concentrate in the water when my harness was literally held on by my armpits and chest.

Regarding professionalism, I was astounded that he constantly interrupted my lessons. Rob would wave over onlookers and spend time explaining kitesurfing while I was on the beach with a kite in hand... waiting for him. This happened multiple times each lesson. I was paying $30 per hour for this?
On two occasions I came to class and he did not even greet me - he just handed me the gear and walked off to hang with his kitesurfing friends or work with another student.

I felt like all Rob wanted was my money.

Last, it took me SEVEN months to receive my IKO certification card. I finished lessons in February. I asked for my card then, and for the next seven months via phone, text, at his business, and via email. There was always an excuse - he forgot the cards, he ran out of cards, he was waiting for the cards, he was out of town. Should he not be required to always have them on hand? Did he have seven months of students not receiving the cards? In the end I paid for a taxi to go to his home and pick it up from his fill-in instructor. Before I came, I was told, "Why bother? It's not like you are going to kitesurf again." What type of teacher and professional says this?

The only positive piece of my experience was Rob's employee Alice. She was so empathetic and helpful. She answered my questions, encouraged me, and helped me out. I felt like I had a friend. My experience would have been a complete flop without her.

(I also loved the other students - I still am in touch with two... over a year later!)
Also - If you choose to go to Rob's school, you HAVE to go to the restaraunt next door. Maresol is owned by a huge family. Try the special rice plate - Maresol. It's enough for two, and it's amazing. Eli, the manager, is one of my good friends. Tell him Rose says HI!

Miss Rose

Villa Kite "Kite Hostel" Santa Marianita Manabí manta ecuador murcielago aQuanautica robert bedoya rob bedoya
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