Posts Tagged ‘Clinic destination’

Barefoot Water Skiing clinic in Mexico with Keith St.Onge!!

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Barefooting in Mexico!

I’ve traveled around the world and back but Mexico was the one place I have yet to visit.  Actually, South America is still on the list as well. After speaking with Juan Carlos and Gustavo at the world championships in Waco, TX I expressed much interest in coming to their homeland. I contacted Juan Carlos a month afterwards and he said, “Let’s do it…buy a plane ticket and that will confirm everything.” It didn’t take me long. I bought a ticket that night.

Juan Carlos, his wife Edith & I eating Tacos in Mexico City

I arrived in Mexico on March 1st and Juan Carlos was there to pick me up. We went to his house and his wife Edith joined us for a traditional Mexican lunch, which is at 3pm in Mexico. Took me a little while to get used to that!   I love Tex-Mex in the states and I was hoping for something similar. We had taco’s with shaved meat, pineapple, onions and fresh squeezed lime over the top. They call limes, Limón’s down here and they come by the dozen. Fresh “Limón’s” are squeezed over every meal served. I loved that as it brought all the flavors out for the taste buds to go crazy. Lucky I like hot and spicy food because almost every meal was hot but not to the point of sweating thank goodness.

View of the Volcano off my balcony! Gorgeous!!!!

We drove South two hours to Tequesquitengo where his lake house was. The lake sat in a deep whole and I could see walls outlining the perimeter of the lake, which only meant one thing. “Bathtub” effects that I new would be horrible. Juan Carlos quickly confirmed we would not be skiing there and we would drive twenty minutes to Coatetelco where he had a private boat launch on a lake that provided great conditions.

When I woke up the next morning I had a spectacular view of the landscape over the lake. A volcano rose high into the panoramic view. We left for Coatetelco and I was able to reunite with an old time friend, Alejandro Alvarez. Alejandra came to my ski school nine years prior while my good friend Adin Daneker was down. We became the three amigos for a little over a week and had a blast. It was great to see him ski again and we enjoyed reminiscing about the past.

My good friend Alejandro Alvarez

Skiing in Mexico

The site was exactly like our lakes we use at the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, FL. The shoreline had reeds on the side of the lake to absorb the rollers and many great shorelines that protected us from the wind. Out of nine days of skiing we hardly experienced any wind at all. Mountains surrounded us and the lake remained glassy throughout the days.

The restaurant on the lake

We launched the boat late that morning and ate lunch “at 3pm” at the local restaurant called Las Vegas. It was more like a bungalow with fire being their source of heat. I was introduced to tortillas everyday for our appetizer, not like the chips and salsa we experience in the states. Shrimp was recommend and it was great but after four days of shrimp I got brave and tried the fish. First I asked for the grilled fish but it has so many bones to pick through it was an hour long process. Next I asked for fried fish, which made it much easier to eat but it took forty five minutes to eat. I then kept it simple and ordered the fried fillet of fish. That was the ticket!

Fried fish was the number one choice be the locals so I tried it!

1st Barefoot day in Mexico! Full boat!

Saturday and Sunday the restaurant was jammed packed. Most people from the city come out to eat in the country as there were at minimum twelve restaurants on the lake. I love it there because they had live mariachi bands playing daily. Even though I don’t understand a lick of Spanish I loved the up beat style of the music. Local kids would come around and sell us peanuts, seeds and anything else they had to try to make a few pesos. Often we bought or gave them something. I gave a few kids an American dollar, which is pretty useless out in the country but may be cool to show around. I also gave them signed posters, brought them in the boat and skied in front of the restaurant to give them all a show.

We brought the kids in the boat and I gave the local kids a show one afternoon

Wicca, Juan Carlos’s dog loved to grab the handle and drag while being pulled over the jump ramp!
Wicca Jumping

We took an afternoon to visit the worlds largest under ground cave in length and height.

Beautiful cave 45min. from Taxco, Mexico. You can see how large the cave is by looking at the people in the lower right hand corner.

Following that we visited the city of Taxco, which is known for mining silver. There were small shops, a gorgeous church and great views as the city is built on a mountainside that reminded me of Greece, minus the ocean. The funniest thing about Taxco was the hundreds of white VW bugs that covered the streets as taxicabs.

Having lunch over looking a beautiful church & Taxco

Greece without the ocean

The next morning we woke up a little earlier and visited old ruins that were built hundreds of years ago. Fascinating history!  They played a game with a small stone similar to basketball. The playing field was built on a slanted course with two wooden wheels on opposite sides each having a hole in it. The winner was sacrificed to the Gods. Juan Carlos says that is why Mexico doesn’t have an superb athletes, of course he was just joking and I got a good laugh.

Temples over looking the lake we barefoot skied on

Ancient games played like basketball. The ring/hoop seems to be in the middle of this arena as the other fields had the ring/hoop on either side up one level.

Temple grounds

Gustavo and Juan Carlos cleaning their position up and learning 1ft. – 1 hands before moving onto front toe holds.

Gustavo working his 1ft. - 1hand

Gus doing his first toe hold on shoes

Juan Carlos working the 1ft. - 1 hand

Juan Carlos cleaning up his front toe hold

A few of the locals.

Local boys on their horses

Laura learning how to barefoot water ski on the shoe skis first.

Laura trying it for the first time

Everyday glass.

I love the iPhone Panorama option on my phone!

Carlos Garcia came out to see what we were up to. Carlos is one of Mexico’s legends in three event skiing and held Mexico’s jump record for twenty plus years. He was also known for his barefoot water skiing skills. His claim to fame was a trick he perfected that always got the crowd on their feet. You can find video’s on YouTube of him doing this. He would fall onto his back purposely looking as though he had fallen and then pull himself around and stand back up. Remember, he had an old life jacket on with three layers of jean shorts was all. Watching the video is quite amazing.

Mexico's Legend Carlos Garcia & Keith St.Onge

It was a pleasure to meet Carlos as I love the history of our sport. He invited me to do a demonstration at his well-known restaurant on the water. He was hosting a private party for the Secretary of Tourism and I was honored to do it. Catch was, it would be at 9pm. We arrived and I was able to meet many other water ski historians like Muchalo. He was the one that promoted and taught people how to ski in Mexico since nearly the beginning. He has a ski school and was even the one who taught Juan Carlos how to water ski for the first time.

First time up backwards for Chappa

Chappa made me laugh because he was screaming the whole time. He had a right too because it was his first time up backwards! Congrats buddy!

Local goats and crops being brought back by horse.

Letting the goats cross the road before continuing

Corn stocks being brought into town

I have never seen so many horses and donkeys in the street in my life. Definitely cool to experience and see. The locals are so resourceful they don’t let anything go to waist. I saw horses carrying wood, peanuts, corn, sugar cane, three people at a time etc… I even witnessed locals using fifteen foot bamboo poles with a hook on the end to retrieve fruits and nuts from massive trees on the side of the road. My favorite by far though…buying coco’s. Spanish for a coconut. $1.00 or 13 Pesos for a real coconut that they would cut a hole into and serve with a straw. Fresh coconut water that you could later cut open and eat!

My new good friends Juan Carlos and Gustavo!! Love these guys!

My new good friends Juan Carlos on the left and Gustavo on the right. Thank you both so much for your hospitality!

Gustavo’s daughter Mariana, who learned so much and plans on going to the next World Championship.   She has so much passion and achieved front toe holds on the shoe skis and back one foots on the shoe skis.

Mariana looking clean on her feet!

Bart: This 22 year old learned so much, so fast. Most people would hardly believe me but here it is. He barefoot skied one time on the boom before we met. He learned on foots on his feet, front toe holds on shoe skis, tumble turns, back deep on his feet on his third attempt, back one foots on shoes, back one foot one hand on shoes, both basic and reverse back toe holds on shoes done on his first attempt. Barefooting behind the boat on his feet on his 1st attempt, tumbles behind the boat, crossing the wake on shoes behind the boat, one foots on shoes behind the boat. Remember this is all done in six relatively short sets, which makes a day and a half of skiing. So, why not try a back to front on the boom while we’re at it right? Also remember, we were using the HeadZone helmets exclusively, which makes for faster and easier learning.
“Ok, do as I say and we’ll do a back to front.” I said to Bart has he was skiing on shoe skis. “Knees and feet together, weight on the right foot, handle into the small of your back, eyes and head up as high as possible. Now, just hold your position, turn to your left and let go.” He came to the front beautifully but caught a tip and fell. “Let’s try it again!” I said. He was more than ready to try it again! Next one he nailed along with several more to follow. Nearly flawless on the last one so I said, “Front to back.” Go up and down for your up weight and turn as you come up. Finally, something he couldn’t do nor come close to doing on his first attempt but absolutely sensational skiing and talent was witnessed those few days. We hope he continues to stay with it so he can also compete in the next world championships!

I hope to see this young man at the next World Championships!

I was treated like a king, ate like a king and will remember this trip for a lifetime! I can’t wait to go back actually! Juan Carlos and I have talked about doing a yearly clinic in Mexico with the option of making it open to whoever wants to come. Obviously it will be limited to a first come, first served basis. If we can spark enough interest this trip would be a package deal. Two days of skiing, a day to tour around and another two days of skiing. Simply driving to the ski site and eating there is an experience all in it’s own. From there you can go and do as you please. Acapulco is only two hours away and we plan on scouting the waterways in Acapulco for a future clinic. Please contact the WBC or I to let us know if you’d be interested in Barefoot Water Skiing in Mexico. A trip of a lifetime!

Thank you so much to Juan Carlos, Laura, Gustavo, Mariana, Claudia, Lulu, Edith, Chappa and everyone else who made my trip so memorable. I didn’t only gain great experiences but lifelong friends as well.  I look forward to going back in the near future!

Keith St.Onge


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