Charleston, By Night and Day
"This is it," Yani yelled.
I waded into the water. I floundered with the board. When I'd finally collected myself, I again nose-dived the kite through the downwind slice of sky where the wind is strongest.
Suddenly I was on my feet. I was flying! I skimmed across the water, propelled by the wind, trying desperately to steer the kite in a way that provided power without yanking me in the wrong direction.
This effort eventually failed. I made a wrong move, caught the edge of my board and submarined for a couple of disorienting seconds. I then lost control of the kite, which whipsawed across the sky and sent me zigzagging through the ocean behind it. Exhausted, I let go of the bar and allowed the kite to collapse.
Then I saw Yani.
He was kiteboarding upwind from me, a rooster tail arcing through the air behind him, back nearly on the water, blond hair gleaming in the sun. When he reversed directions, he slingshot 15 or 20 feet in the air, twisting, turning and -- one time -- kicking off the board and hanging upside down. I made whimpering noises of awe.
After Yani landed a final jump on the beach -- as if this sort of thing were easy and natural -- I offered to buy him a beer. But he had other priorities. As soon as the gear was stowed, he began running back toward the water. He had maybe an hour of daylight left, and he was going to kiteboard home.
Ben Brazil last wrote for Travel about Peru.
Details: Charleston, S.C.
GETTING THERE: United, Delta and US Airways offer nonstop service from the D.C. area to Charleston, with round-trip fares from $160, with restrictions.
WHERE TO STAY: Options include the Planters Inn (112 N. Market St., 800-845-7082, www.plantersinn.com), with an excellent -- if potentially noisy -- location in the historical district and near several bars; doubles from $170 per night. The Kings Courtyard Inn (198 King St., 866-720-2949, www.kingscourtyardinn.com), also in the historical district, has an afternoon wine tasting; doubles from $130.
Just off Marion Square, the 12-story Francis Marion Hotel (387 King St., 877-756-2121, www.francismarioncharleston.com) has a spacious lobby with a baby grand piano. Doubles begin at $229, but steep discounts may be available -- I've paid less than $100.
WHERE TO EAT: For Sunday brunch and Lowcountry cuisine, try Poogan's Porch (72 Queen St.); entrees range from $4 to $24, with good breakfast prices. The Peninsula Grill (112 N. Market St.) is a good choice among the various fine-dining restaurants. It has a classy atmosphere and food described as "traditional Charleston style with contemporary accents," entrees start at $19.50.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company