Midlife At The Oasis

Two weeks in a knitting circle.

“You get a good taste of life, which a lot of people don’t get at this age-they go straight into working or they go into college. We just get a good taste of raw life.”-Anthony Van Engelen, Feedback

“A good taste of raw life.” It has to be agreed that skateboarding can drop you headfirst into any number of raw situations. I can safely speculate that most skaters can probably identify the influence of a skateboard in most of the bizarre, frightening, or amazing experiences in their lives. A trip driving through Spain sounds like a pretty good opportunity for some “raw life” on a skate trip, but it was pretty clear from day one that this would be no tour of excess-no drink, no class-A drugs, no women. It was iTune exchange, in-room movies, long meals, and a lot of skating that held sway.

To the outsider, it was the most boring skate trip that ever took place, but for those deep in the knitting circle, it got interesting really quick. In the space of five minutes, a conversation topic could start with life inside the California penal system and end with the problems of life with a canine who thinks he’s a human. There was plenty to discuss. When we visited Valencia on day five, we met this circle of women at a street party next to a pretty epic manual pad/ledge thing. They were having an amazing time and welcomed us into their street party with open arms, a kiss on either cheek, and a greeting of “handsome Americans,” but having sized us up, they were quick to return to their conversation.

As the old ladies chatted away about anything and nothing, I looked around the crew and realized that we had a lot in common with them; admittedly they were talking about Juan the womanizing layabout, and we were talking about wanting to be a womanizing layabout, but it was all the same at the end of the day. “We were pretty midlife really,” I’d tell people when they asked how the trip went. “Just a bunch of old grannies in a knitting circle talking about nothing. It was probably the best road trip I’ve been on.”

Stefan Janoski, Switch Heelflip, Besos

There’re many ways to counter the effects of long-distance flying: drinking as much water as possible, regular walking and stretching during the flight, comfortable clothes (no spray-on jeans), and checking in early to get an emergency-exit-row seat with extra leg room are just a few. It’s also a good idea to take it easy for a few days when you get there to let your body adjust. Less than four hours off the flight from Los Angeles with zero water and no more than a cheese sandwich in his stomach, Stefan defied all logic and switch heeled the bump to bar at Besos-twice. To provide yin for his yang, Jason Hernandez, less than four hours off the flight from Los Angeles with maybe 275ml of water and no more than a cheese and ham sandwich in his stomach, dislocated his elbow at the very same bump to bar and then spent the next few hours having various doctors unsuccessfully experiment with the many forceful ways to relocate a dislocated elbow. Not exactly a red-carpet welcome. Unperturbed, Jason learned to film left-handed the following morning, was winning games of SKATE by the middle of week one, and had a Spanish lady friend by the end week two. What a beast, an inspiration for us all, and MVP of the trip without a doubt.

Omar Salazar, Backside Lipslide

Barcelona is a bust! Well, not quite, but with every bucket of water from an angry apartment resident that gets thrown onto skaters below, a part of the Barcelona dream is washed away. The indigenous Barcelonians have lost their interest in skateboarding, and they’re starting to fall in line with the rest of the world and view it as something of a nuisance. Tickets have been issued, boards confiscated, and rails knobbed at previously mellow spots like the rail and bank at Torres Y Bagges and the areas of MACBA that have not been skatestopped with flagpoles or alphabetic installations e only skateable at set times. If you’re lucky enough to visit Barcelona, use your common sense-leave tagging markers at home, and stickering spots is also a no-no. It’s hard to deny the pointed finger when a piece of architecture is covered in paper stickers advertising your local skate shop. These rules apply everywhere, right?

Shiloh Greathouse, Backside 360 Melon

Situated in a dingy side street in the center of Barcelona, Bar Manolo, or “Men Only” as it is affectionately referred to, isn’t responsible for all casualties of war in Barcelona, but it’s definitely the entry point of a slippery slope to depravity. Full-blown Manolo fever will take you far beyond this shabby little hovel, which could be a good thing if you don’t fancy watching the Foundation video on repeat for three months. Is the record scratched or can someone put something else in the VCR, please? Anyway, the nightlife in Barcelona has gained a well-deserved global reputation thanks to a million and one bars, the widespread availability of “street beers” (which can be legally consumed in the street) from illegal street vendors, and relaxed laws regarding imports from Morocco-perfect for tales to tell the homeys at home, but also a recipe for many skateboarders to lose their way a little bit. When the night fun increases, the footage toll tends to decrease-we mixed a little of the former and a lot of the latter.

Chany Jeanguenin, Gap To Backlip

At 10:00 a.m. West Coast American time, it’s already 7:00 p.m. in Barcelona, so the jet lag makes you want to stay up late and wake up mid afternoon. With the autumn scheduling of our trip meaning that the sun went to bed at 5:00 p.m., a generator seemed like a good idea. After three hours of driving around and about, but not in the Zona Franca industrial estate on the outskirts of Barcelona, we finally managed to find Bauhaus, which is a Home Depot, of sorts.

Amazingly enough, there was a 3,000-watt generator on special offer that had enough power to get three of Jason’s 750-watt lights going. It had built-in wheels and generally met Jon Holland’s approval. We were laughing. When it tipped over in the back of Jon’s van about 30 seconds out of the Bauhaus parking lot, spilling gasoline all over the backseats, we should’ve seen the trouble coming, but it wasn’t just the van that was in for a pasting. When we plugged in Jason’s lights, they weren’t happy with the extra 120 volts, and after glowing a sort of halogen purple like the fancy headlights on posh Audis and BMWs, the bulbs popped and went to heaven, leaving the generator sitting in the back of the van like a badly behaved boy for the rest of the trip. We tried to find somewhere that sold 500-watt lights but failed miserably, so any night skating had to be done in the dark. The generator is still alive and well, sitting patiently on my terrace in the rain, but has yet to illuminate a single skateboard trick; I’m just praying for a power outage so I can actually use the cursed thing.

Richard Angelides, Switch Backside Heelflip

Bull fighting is far more prevalent in the south of Spain than in the north, but if you must, bull-fighting season is between April and September. Apparently, it takes a seriously loaded roster of matador stars to muster any sort of local crowd, so the rings are normally full of tourists who all leave after the first blood is spilt, so don’t expect too much in the way of atmosphere. Spanish people are far more likely to be interested in football when it comes to sport (soccer to those of you reading in the States). You can strike up conversations about football and even street matches with almost anyone. However, it’s not all sportsmanship on the streets of Spain. The most commonly used trick in the pikey book is well practiced. Anyone challenging you to a game of street football may well be seeking an opportunity to pickpocket you while you tussle for the ball, so keep your eyes pealed and your wallet in your front pocket.

Chany Jeanguenin, Front Crook, Malaga

Yes, it’s the best city in the world ever, and there’s no ultimate reason to leave Barcelona, but there’re amazing sights and sounds outside the city. Our little adventure took off in Valencia, which is about two or three hours south of Barcelona, and Malaga, which is another six hours south. Rental cars in Spain are pretty reasonable, so getting out of the city is not a total fantasy, but you’ll end up in a micro car, so bear this in mind. Also George Bush’s death grip on oil affects Europe, so you’ll pay twice as much for gasoline here as you will in the States, so a far more economical solution to the automobile is the scooter, whose popularity in Europe has spawned designs ranging from the classic to the outrageous.

Paul Shier, Frontside 180 Fakie Nose Manual Switch Backside Revert

Valencia was a new city for everyone on the trip, and while it wasn’t exactly overflowing with spots, the city is beautiful and has a couple of skate gems in its crown, including this manual pad, which we came up on thanks to Kingy and Percy from Document magazine.

Our first session here was at night and was pretty difficult with the amount of distractions. The next day we posted up and got a good few hours of unadulterated skating in when a fairly foxy young Spanish girl approached Omar and struck up a conversation with him. After five minutes, we had been invited to meet her extended family and friends who were holding a street party just around the corner. Each partygoer had brought different dishes and refreshments to be shared in the street, where they had erected tables and chairs. There’s no way to really explain the scene in words, and photos don’t convey the atmosphere, but we were definitely privileged to experience such amazing hospitality. After a couple of cervezas and some Spanish cake, Chany and Omar put on a demo for the family and friends, which included a wide variety of streetplants from Chany, and crescendoed with a thigh-high paella pan being held upright that Omar hippy-hopped and Chany ollied.

Eventually our chica admitted that she liked Chany, who she said looked like Brad Pitt, and she began laying some very persuasive groundwork aimed at getting us (Chany) to stay the night. We had to drive to Malaga that night so waved our hosts good-bye and left a broken heart in our wake, but we had full stomachs, refreshed spirits, and a Brad Pitt look-alike to keep us going for the six-hour drive south.

Omar Salazar, Ollie Into Bank

There are two types of police force in Barcelona: The Policia and the Guardia Urbana, and while they might appear to be the same threat in slightly different clothing, they actually have two different missions and two very different levels of aggression. In Barcelona, the Guardia Urbana are there to maintain civil behavior in the streets and help tourists find out where they are on the map. If you’re skating a spot, you might be able to plead for one last try from these guys. La Policia on the other hand are well practiced in such things as using a Mag-Lite for purposes other than illuminating dark areas, so if you find yourself face to face, put your tail between your legs and leave. Thanks to an impromptu game of soccer at a motorway gas station, we were pinched by the freeway Policia and were subsequently pulled over every time we so much as blinked. Apparently, the Policia were on red alert because of a terror threat that week. Omar can just about set up a skateboard, but building a bomb from domestic ingredients is way beyond him. Either way, the Policia had us in their sights, and they weren’t going to let us off easily. Shiloh actually enjoyed having the vans searched by the police-smoking a cigarette while sipping a 40-ounce Xibecca was a novel experience for him-but Omar was less enthralled with the experience when his “miniature stone collection” was confiscated.

Shiloh Greathouse, Backside Smith

Despite its pocket.

Chany Jeanguenin, Front Crook, Malaga

Yes, it’s the best city in the world ever, and there’s no ultimate reason to leave Barcelona, but there’re amazing sights and sounds outside the city. Our little adventure took off in Valencia, which is about two or three hours south of Barcelona, and Malaga, which is another six hours south. Rental cars in Spain are pretty reasonable, so getting out of the city is not a total fantasy, but you’ll end up in a micro car, so bear this in mind. Also George Bush’s death grip on oil affects Europe, so you’ll pay twice as much for gasoline here as you will in the States, so a far more economical solution to the automobile is the scooter, whose popularity in Europe has spawned designs ranging from the classic to the outrageous.

Paul Shier, Frontside 180 Fakie Nose Manual Switch Backside Revert

Valencia was a new city for everyone on the trip, and while it wasn’t exactly overflowing with spots, the city is beautiful and has a couple of skate gems in its crown, including this manual pad, which we came up on thanks to Kingy and Percy from Document magazine.

Our first session here was at night and was pretty difficult with the amount of distractions. The next day we posted up and got a good few hours of unadulterated skating in when a fairly foxy young Spanish girl approached Omar and struck up a conversation with him. After five minutes, we had been invited to meet her extended family and friends who were holding a street party just around the corner. Each partygoer had brought different dishes and refreshments to be shared in the street, where they had erected tables and chairs. There’s no way to really explain the scene in words, and photos don’t convey the atmosphere, but we were definitely privileged to experience such amazing hospitality. After a couple of cervezas and some Spanish cake, Chany and Omar put on a demo for the family and friends, which included a wide variety of streetplants from Chany, and crescendoed with a thigh-high paella pan being held upright that Omar hippy-hopped and Chany ollied.

Eventually our chica admitted that she liked Chany, who she said looked like Brad Pitt, and she began laying some very persuasive groundwork aimed at getting us (Chany) to stay the night. We had to drive to Malaga that night so waved our hosts good-bye and left a broken heart in our wake, but we had full stomachs, refreshed spirits, and a Brad Pitt look-alike to keep us going for the six-hour drive south.

Omar Salazar, Ollie Into Bank

There are two types of police force in Barcelona: The Policia and the Guardia Urbana, and while they might appear to be the same threat in slightly different clothing, they actually have two different missions and two very different levels of aggression. In Barcelona, the Guardia Urbana are there to maintain civil behavior in the streets and help tourists find out where they are on the map. If you’re skating a spot, you might be able to plead for one last try from these guys. La Policia on the other hand are well practiced in such things as using a Mag-Lite for purposes other than illuminating dark areas, so if you find yourself face to face, put your tail between your legs and leave. Thanks to an impromptu game of soccer at a motorway gas station, we were pinched by the freeway Policia and were subsequently pulled over every time we so much as blinked. Apparently, the Policia were on red alert because of a terror threat that week. Omar can just about set up a skateboard, but building a bomb from domestic ingredients is way beyond him. Either way, the Policia had us in their sights, and they weren’t going to let us off easily. Shiloh actually enjoyed having the vans searched by the police-smoking a cigarette while sipping a 40-ounce Xibecca was a novel experience for him-but Omar was less enthralled with the experience when his “miniature stone collection” was confiscated.

Shiloh Greathouse, Backside Smith

Despite its clear color and the fact that millions of people are happy to swim in the Mediterranean Sea each year, it’s actually one of the filthiest seas in the world. The Med is effectively a pond with a little sluice gate called the Strait Of Gibraltar at one end and an opening at the Bosporus in Turkey. Water masses are only exchanged every 70 years-a pretty grim reality. Despite the bacterial content of the water and the amount of Speedos, it would be a cardinal sin to miss a Spanish beach in the summer; the window-shopping alone makes it worthwhile. Just make sure that you use the freshwater showers at the beach or you might find a salt-stain-like layer of stinking scum that has formed on your skin, which, speaking from experience, isn’t really all that nice. We missed the beach in favor of skating, much to the distain of several of our group members, but we got our fill of filth on the streets of Spain where dogs eating trash in urine-stenched back streets is a perfectly common occurrence.

its clear color and the fact that millions of people are happy to swim in the Mediterranean Sea each year, it’s actually one of the filthiest seas in the world. The Med is effectively a pond with a little sluice gate called the Strait Of Gibraltar at one end and an opening at the Bosporus in Turkey. Water masses are only exchanged every 70 years-a pretty grim reality. Despite the bacterial content of the water and the amount of Speedos, it would be a cardinal sin to miss a Spanish beach in the summer; the window-shopping alone makes it worthwhile. Just make sure that you use the freshwater showers at the beach or you might find a salt-stain-like layer of stinking scum that has formed on your skin, which, speaking from experience, isn’t really all that nice. We missed the beach in favor of skating, much to the distain of several of our group members, but we got our fill of filth on the streets of Spain where dogs eating trash in urine-stenched back streets is a perfectly common occurrence.