Soaring with the wind | Sunday Observer

Soaring with the wind

A strong wind whips the waves of Kalpitiya lagoon. Kite surfer Keira Perera skims the waves and soars with the wind enjoying every thrilling moment of an adventurous experience. For Keira, it is not only an adventure it is a profession too. He is a qualified IKO kite surfing instructor.

In 2016, he was a member of the first team of kite surfers who skimmed the waves with wind power to reach the Northern capital, Jaffna. The others were Michael Lerch and Chris Waller, the two German nationals who taught Keira to kite surf.

The tough but exhilarating trip took them past Silavathurai, across the Wilpattu National Park and then on to Talaimannar and Jaffna and it took them four days to travel more than 350km.

Now, seated and relaxed in front of me at his home, the The Kite House Café in Kappalady I found it hard to believe that this was a guy, who along with his partner Anais Garcia had just completed a gruelling tour on motorbikes covering Colombo, Deniyaya, Sinharaja, Balangoda, Haputale, Badulla , Mahiyanganaya, Dambulla, and Anuradhpura, Kalpitiya and back home to Kappalady.

Keira’s zest for adventure comes from his parents Ajita Kadiragamar and Vipula Perera, who have been gamechangers in their respective fields. Ajita is a well known media personality and writer while Vipula has been involved in rally car racing, motor crosses and other such events from their pioneering days.

As a kid,Keira was taken to the tropical jungles of Sri Lanka by his parents, the sacred city of Kataragama, Yala, ArugamBay, the East coast and the village of Panama were part of their beat.It was on these trips that Keira made friends with the Aadhivasi or Veddahs familiarising himself with their life and lore. Thus, was born Keira’s lifelong love of nature, people and things off the beaten track.

Having lived in Sri Lanka till he was around 12 years Keira left to the USA with his parents .While in Sri Lanka he had his education at the Asian International School and Wycherley International School. He completed his high schooling in Boston and obtained his Bsc in Environmental Science from Greenfield College, Massachusetts.

During this time Keira came to Sri Lanka on holiday twice.

Keira faced the terrible tragedy of losing his grandfather, Lakshman Kadirgamar in a terrorist attack. Kadirgamar was the country’s Foreign Minister at the time. Keira was partying that night and had stepped out into the garden for a space. When he returned to the house he was stunned to see breaking news that Lakshman Kadirgamar had been shot.

All eyes were on Keira at that moment. Pulling himself together Keira called a family friend Christo Raymond. He came and collected Keira and advised him not to reveal his identity if they were stopped and questioned on the way. After this Keira did not visit his motherland for a while.

Keira visited Sri Lanka once more after his grandfather’s death, and it was after this trip that he decided to move back. “On this trip I met two Australians in Arugam Bay, we decided to travel the whole country on trail bike and set off for three weeks, riding and camping wherever we stopped for the night. We did the whole east coast up to Jaffna and then down the west coast, eventually crossing in to the Knuckles range and then the Central Highlands.” They encountered much on this trip from close calls with wildlife, breakdowns in remote places, and even being held in a Navy camp overnight by friendly soldiers who were confused yet concerned by their presence in the jungle. The two Australians are now among Keira’s closest friends.

Keira spent two weeks in the Honduras, Central America working with well known Sri Lankan environmental activist, Dr. Ranil Senanayake on an Analog Forestry Project. After this, he joined Coconut Tree Divers in the Honduras and earned his Dive Master Qualification at the age of 24 years. It is a PADI affiliated school with extremely high standards.

He also worked for a Sustainable Farming Project run by a Swiss lady in the highlands of Brazil close to the Amazonian jungles. While here, he trekked and explored the stunningly beautiful Chapada Diamantina National Park. Keira intended to walk across the entire park alone. But along the way in the mountain villages, he had met travellers who had heard of his plan and were interested in joining him. Keira told these people that he was not a guide and was doing this only as a personal mission and warned them of the dangers of such a venture. In the end about 10 people from eight different countries followed Keira across the park for 10 days. Keira says “it was an amazing experience to say the least and a new point in my backcountry trekking.”

This adventurous spirit not only dares on water but also scales the heights. Keira has been climbing and trekking from a very young age and has climbed many hills and mountains in Sri Lanka. In the USA, the Appalachian mountains drew him like a magnet and he climbed them with a friend when he was around 17 years old. This was his first real experience of camping and roughing it out and has stood him in good stead since.

The West Coast Mountains of New Zealnd’s South Island are a nature lover’s utopia. Keira trekked through the top ofCopeland Trail alone for five days, from the mountains to the coast. This area is a combination of rain forests, beach and snowfields.

Keira returned to Sri Lanka and became Dive Master for the Ruwala Resort in Bangadeniya. Here, he was in charge of Kalpitiya’s first PADI Dive Resort which included two dive boats and a 14 metre yacht.

During this time a friend asked Keira whether he would like to go for spaghetti bolognaises and tiramisu that night. Keira responded with laughter and skepticism for he never expected to have such exotic dishes in that area. It was to the Kite Café run by Catalonian Anais Garcia that Keira’s friend took him to for spaghetti bolognaise and tiramisu. Keira not only had delicious food, he found his soul mate in Anais Garcia, Together, they run the Kite House Café, Kappalady.

Located a stone’s throw from the Kalpitiya lagoon the Kite Café is a serene oasis where one can relax, rejuvenate and indulge in kite surfing and other aqua sports to your heart’s content. Coconut palm thatched cabanas offer comfortable accommodation and Anna Garcia turns out delicious and exotic dishes to titillate your taste buds.

The Kite House Café has been rated 5 of 5 on TripAdvisor and has been rated #1 of 26 restaurants in Kalpitiya.

Keira is passionate about environmental conservation and he and Anais are actively involved in conservation in Kalpitiya. In April this year they joined forces with Dilsiri Welikala of Kitesurfing Sri Lanka and Artist Sala to organize Kalpitya Collective Wild, a highly successful festival of music, culture and much more to help raise funds for conservation.

Keira has an in–depth knowledge of whale and dolphin activity in the area and is also attuned to the fishing culture of the area.

Keira’s loves his chosen way of life living close to nature and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Running Kite House Café, kitesurfing, snorkeling and diving fills his days. The breaks he and Anais take touring Sri Lanka strengthens the bonds they have with Sri Lanka,

Good luck Keira and Anais.