In order to change one’s life, it is necessary to have the courage to make a choice and to believe tenaciously in the desired direction. But it is not an easy task, because there are many failures to be faced, and a lot of time to invest.
One thing is certain, every radical choice is dictated by the past in which we have lived and the context in which we have grown up.
Today I have interviewed a friend and colleague of mine, Mat de Mateus. An ordinary guy who, driven by his passion for kitesurfing, decided to take the big step and give a turn to his life. For those who know him, Mat represents the quiet force. He is a calm, patient and very enthusiastic.
Due to his struggle to adapt and to fit into the working world, he decided to revitalize his passion for kiting. He strongly wanted this sport to become something more, to be an integral part of his everyday life.
Thanks to kiting, he discovered Brazil, a country that perfectly suits his human characteristics and which provide the weather conditions he was looking for.
And so, a simple trip turned into a change of life.
I’m glad we can talk about him and let you know his reality and his business. Thanks to the practice of kitesurfing he is trying to rediscover the beauty of the Brazilian northeast coast. In order to achieve this, he has created his school, kitexperiment, which differs mainly from other structures due to the centrality that downwinds occupy in his project, which he defines as one of the best ways to discover the coastline and learn about the culture of local villages, often inaccessible.
Through some simple questions I wanted to analyze who Mat is, what drove him to move to Brazil, and understand more about his project.
Hi Mat, tell us few words about you
“My name is Mathieu and I’m a kitesurfing instructor. I have always tried to feel as free as possible in life and do what I like, and my family has always pushed me in this direction. And kiteboarding reflects my way of thinking.
But before to work as a kitesurfing instructor I used to be a tree climber / arboriculturist.
At that time, I was in forestry training and looking for an internship. I was contacted by a tree climbing company that gave me confidence. From the very beginning they put me to work, making me climb 20 meters high from day one. I really liked the feeling. I was only 16 years old and I stayed with them for 8 years.
Thanks to this job and my family, I grew up a lot and I kept nurturing my passions and developing new projects.
This is how I chose to travel to Brazil in 2009″.
Did you travel for kiting before you went to Brazil?
“Before 2009, the year of departure, I had only been in Guadeloupe and Greece to kite. Until that moment, living in Montpellier, I was just exploring the area between Beauduc and Leucate in the south of France. I was always looking for the best conditions and ready to drive several kilometers for it.
I like to travel, discover places and learn new things. I wanted to travel the world, live from my passion and work as a kitesurf instructor.
Hence the idea to go on my first real and great journey alone, and I chose Brazil to get started”.
Why did you choose to leave France? And why move to Brazil?
“In France I had no compelling attachment, and after some failures I could not find my place in the French professional area. So, I decided to take back my life, follow my passions, travel and discover new places.
Why Brazil? Simply because in 2009 I had found a job in Icarai de Amontada, in the northeast of Brazil. I had a 3-month agreement, from July to September.
At the end of this experience I fell in love with the village, the locals and I was enthusiastic about the exceptional wind conditions and the wild beaches.
Time passed so quickly that I didn’t want to leave anymore!
I found in Brazil some characteristics that I had been looking for ages. I was fascinated! I immediately decided that I wanted to better discover the country and to postpone my long journey, changing my itinerant project into a more fixed one.
But, at the time, I had some business to take care of in France. During my return, however, I was more and more convinced of the idea to know better the village where I had lived in Brazil and to develop a long-term project there.
In October I bought the flight back to Brazil, and on the 31st of December 2009 at midnight is the moment when I finally chose to live in Brazil. The beginning of a new adventure!”.
It’ s never easy to settle in a new country. Tell us about your experience.
“I started by opening a restaurant specializing in sushi, but shortly afterwards I had the opportunity to open my own kitesurfing school, which at the time was called IKS (Icaraizinho Kite School).
At that time, I went through important changes in my personal life that pushed me to move to Jericoacoara. Being unable to run the school remotely, I had to close it and start working as an instructor for different structures.
On the other hand, I was lucky enough to be helped on the administrative side, by a friend who had been living in Brazil for some years. My biggest problem, therefore, was communicating with people and learning the language. Besides that, I didn’t have great troubles, I believe that you can find the same obstacles everywhere.
I knew that I had to be patient and step out of the European mentality, otherwise I would have gone crazy”.
What motivated you to take the step to such a radical life change?
“What inspired me the most is their lifestyle. I’m not saying it’s easier, it just seemed more like the way I perceived things. People are calmer and more positive.
From a kitesurfing point of view, moreover, the conditions are incredible. The wind blows 8 months a year, from July to February.
During this period the statistics are extraordinary, and the wind blows always in the same direction.
And that makes the region excellent for downwinds.
You can cover very long distances, from 10km up to 100km per day. I became a guide and brought groups between the villages of Taiba and Atins, increasing my skills in the business.
I liked the idea of sharing and making this practice popular, and I wanted it to become a cornerstone of my project.
But before moving permanently to Brazil, I decided with my wife to come back to France and work at the Pôle Nautique in Gruissan during the summer. I renewed the experience for three years. I also managed to get DE kitesurfing. This experience helped me to gain confidence and gave me the basis to realize my idea.
So, I decided to definitely open a centre based in Icaraizinho, the Kitexperiment, where I now moved back to live with my wife”.
Downwinds seem to be your thing. Tell us why.
“When I created Kitexperiment, I didn’t want it to be just a kitesurfing school. I wanted to show the coast in a different way, by exploiting the downwinds.
The downwind consists to start from a point A and arrive at a point B following the wind direction. It is a kite excursion of a few hours or more.
Today I propose two formulas lasting one week, the first between Taiba and jericoacoara, and the second between Jericoacoara and Atins.
The objective is to discover the spots in the region, calmly. Every independent kiter has the opportunity to enjoy this adventure. No great physical conditions are required, because we adapt. Cars always follow us on the beach to ensure the safety and transport of equipment, so that we can take a break or change kites in case of need.
In addition, I offer advanced coaching at Icarai de Amontada, giving you the chance to make shorter downwind in the surrounding area.
What do I like about downwind?
- On one hand, the peace of mind in enjoying a few uncrowded spots during the day, on the other hand, the possibility to socialize and celebrate in the evening, while arriving in places that are a bit more touristy.
- We discover nature in a way we’re not used to experience.
- We meet turtles, dolphins, fish jumping between our legs, as well as fishermen in the middle of nowhere.
- We discover wave spots as well as flat areas according to the tides.
- Each downwind is different even if you make 10 times the same route, because the tide and wind change the shape of the coast.
- The sharing experienced with a group that is often heterogeneous.
- Going on an adventure without going back to the starting point is a feeling I love.
Over time I have tried to adapt this experience in order to share it with the maximum number of people, making it accessible to the greatest number of kitesurfers of all levels, as long as they are autonomous.
We are not many to organize this service.
It took me 3 years to finalize this project, in order to respect some fundamental criteria:
- Quality of service
- Small group, maximum 8 people
- An experienced team, the guide on the water and the driver on the ground
- Adaptation during the week to please each member of the group
- Anyone who is autonomous can participate
Kitexperiment is, in fact, experiencing new experiences, such as downwind and advanced courses. The latter are not necessarily held in one place, but it is possible to develop them as small-scale downwind courses.
Proposing new experiences and innovations is my aim.
I’m used to comparing the work of a downwind guide to a high mountain guide. You need to know the dangers, know how to react at the right time and know how to say “no” when necessary, to ensure the safety of the group.
I acquired the skills to propose this activity thanks to 20 years of experience in kitesurfing and 11 years of life spent on the Brazilian coast, between Taiba and Atins.
I’m glad I started this project and happy to share it with you”.
What do I learn from his story?
If you want, you can. But you have to be able to adapt. You have to be ready to make sacrifices. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, so you have to be ready to make tough choices that can be scary, like closing a school the same year you’re opening it, if you think a more suitable project is waiting for you.
Be patient and don’t look for maximum profit in the minimum time. Don’t see the negative everywhere.
I like his conception that Brazil is not the perfect place, but simply the most suitable for him at this time of his life.
Every place has its problems, the important thing is to look for the one that suits you best.
You want to know more? Are you interested in his project? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
The power to tell a story
I hope you enjoyed this story, that it conveyed something to you and that it could be a source of inspiration for you or your future projects.
If you have a story to share, don’t hesitate to write me.
I’m looking forward to read your feedback and I’ll always be happy to spread true and genuine stories to help our community!