Dieppe was a real pleasure this year.
Being a tourist instead of a formal guest gave Susie and I a chance to relax. We didn’t have to staff tables, fly scheduled performances, or make the morning meetings. Our hotel overlooking the field and beach served breakfast in bed, and the French rain was even graceful enough to only come at night.
The international kite gathering in Dieppe takes place every two years. The city is set back from the beach by wide, grassy fields which are perfect for flying. A medieval castle dominates the cliffs at the edge of town. And from our hotel, we can see a long stretch of tents featuring the thirty-nine countries represented.
Part of the magic of this event is the broad spectrum of cultures, traditions, and flying styles present. Each year, the Dieppe organizer seek out more unusual kites and kiters who bring creations of nylon, tissue, washi and silk to share.
It is also a gathering of fast friends. The Gombergs have been at the festival six times. That’s twelve years to get to know the fliers. Each time we return, everyone takes time to tease each other about graying hair and growing waistlines.
But we also take time to meet new friends and to appreciate their unique contribution to our global kite heritage. Tents take turns during the week hosting parties so that the festival becomes a smorgasbord of ethnic foods as well as ethnic kites. And each night, the small groups drinking wine in local restaurants stay out later and later.
Dieppe isn’t the massive show of Berck or Long Beach. But the kites are works of art. Kitemasters delight in showing off older showpieces or unveiling new ones. Large inflatables vie with appliquéd edos, darting fighters, or long Asian dragons and centipedes.
With such a show in the sky, and so many good people at the end of their lines, we almost hated to leave. But there are more adventures to be had on the next leg of our journey.
The sun is setting in Germany and we’ll soon be boarding for the overnight flight. Cape Town is a mere eleven hours away. And this time, we cross no time zones. I probably wont sleep well, but at least there won’t be jet lag to contend with too.
Check back next week for news of the South Africa festival. See you then!