The tour consisted of four riders: Eric Koston, Rick McCrank, Kerry Getz, and me. There were also three eyes to the world: Chris Ortiz, Kirk Dianda, and Fred Montagne–all of whom did a great job. Even though Fred is French, I agreed to having him as part of the crew. As you might know, Brazilians can get a little touchy when confronted by a fellow from France Brazil lost the World Cup to France by three points. And how can one forget, Donald Brown was also a part of it. Team managers are always needed on tour to keep everyone sane and make sure they go to sleep at 9:00 p.m. “Remember you have a demo tomorrow,” was often heard from the English chap.
This was by far one of the best tours ever done in Brazil. It was well organized and everyone got along. The whole idea of touring isn’t really part of skateboarding in Brazil, because it’s never been done. Pros have traveled to São Paulo and Rio, but not really anywhere else. Tours are the best way to spread good skateboarding; it motivates and brings fun to skaters who never get to see pros from other countries.
We were scheduled to demo and make shop appearances in about eight towns. When I saw the schedule, I thought it was going to be mellow. It’d be rad to hit spots that had never been visited by any world-class pros before. People were going to freak!
Since I moved from Brazil, the traffic has gotten worse. We ended up spending more time inside the van than I’d expected. The good thing was that we had a TV/VCR set inside. We watched skate videos, got to see our share of the Anti-Hero video, and Silly Society and Chicle–two Brazilian video mags. If you ask Eric, he’ll tell you every trick done in each one of them. We all agreed that Frog Face became a celebrity after this tour.
Boris, the Brazilian Sole Tech distributor, had arranged for us to stay in downtown São Paulo. Not really the place to visit and then tell everyone you’ve been to Brazil. São Paulo is sketchy, poverty stricken, and not the best representation of Brazil. But it was great since most of the rare street spots are right around the corner.
The tour went smoothly and after a lot of translating, I think the guys got an idea of how things are done in Brazil. One of the cool things about the tour was that since I have the ability to speak the language, I got to call the shots. I liked that. They’d ask me how to say something and I’d tell them, but they didn’t know what I really said. If I played it right, I’d get a good kick out of it.
As you might already know, driving in Brazil is quite chaotic. From time to time, a sudden stop would have to be made–no big deal, city driving is always like that. But when it was time to hit the road for Curitiba–which is five hours away from São Paulo–things got a little dangerous. It’s a two-lane highway with trucks, buses, and autos. People usually help each other out by pulling a little to the side as you pass; the oncoming traffic has to cooperate by doing the same. This has got to be a teamwork thing to make it happen. I know for a fact that sometimes it doesn’t quite work that way. And to prove my point, the highway’s nickname is The Death Highway.
Ortiz didn’t sleep at all during this segment of the tour. As soon as I told everyone about the highway’s history, the mood changed. Chris turned around and asked me if I could tell the driver to go a bit slower. “Sure,” I said. Then I told Fabiano to gas it and give a couple of harsh brakes every once in a while.
“Anytime, Ortiz. Translating is fun.”
We ate a lot on this trip. All-you-can-eat meat restaurants are a big hit in Brazil, the good thing is they also have good salad bars for the non-meat eaters like myself and McCrank. Everyone else gobbled down Brazilian beef. Another thing I miss about not being down there are the amazing fresh fruit juices everywhere you go. Tropical fruit stands along the road are a given and coconut waterr to quench your thirst with some Brazilian flavor are also missed. Meal time was one of the most anticipated times on this tour–Ortiz and Eric can tell you all about it.
I could go on a lot more about this tour. There were so many funny situations, awesome skating, and lots of Gameboying.
Have a great day, good luck with that rail, watch out for cars, and don’t drop in without a helmet!
“My favorite thing about Brazil was Rio de Janeiro. My least favorite thing was all the meat on a stick. Shich kebabs wouldn’t stop coming to the table–chicken hearts, any kind of meat. It was crazy.”–Rick McCrank
“There was this box that held the TV in the van. Everyone would bang their head into it when they went into the van. I don’t think there was one person who didn’t hit their head really hard on it. I probably did about three times.”–Eric Koston
“There were two really funny things on the trip that took place on a regular basis. Rick hated the meat on the stick, but I’ve never seen anyone inhale food like Ortiz. It was comedy because we’d eat three or four times a day, and he was literally a vacuum. The vegetarians were complaining, but Ortiz was Homer Simpson.
“Rick bought a dildo. Whenever we’d take a trip on the plane or in a car, which we did a lot, as soon as someone fell asleep they’d put the dildo in someone’s face and take pictures of it.”–Kirk Dianda
“In São Paulo the exhaust was really bad, the traffic was really bad, there wasn’t that many street spots. Rio was definitely the best part about it and the beaches. It was amazing skating with Erik, Rick, and those guys ’cause I looked up to them years before I got into skating.
“People in Brazil were really good skaters. There were so many good skaters over there. They should move over to the U.S. just to be recognized.”–Kerry Getz
“It was a good place down there. But it was just like hell tour. We went there thinking we were going to shoot photos and film for fourteen days, and only do three demos. But we had a demo every single day. It was a hell trip, but rad smoothies, rad meat bars, sketchy driving.
“We went to Rio and Bob’s dad met us at the hotel. We were getting ready to go swimming, but this raw sewage line broke out in the ocean like a quarter mile out from the shore–650,000 tons of raw sewage a minute coming out into the ocean. And there were still people swimming out there–to me that was the sketchiest thing. Here in America, there’d be signs posted, there’d probably be lifeguards standing at each place telling you, 'No, you can’t go swimming.’ There the only way you find out about it is if you read the paper, and the paper is in Portuguese.
“So for personal vacation I wouldn’t go back. But to go there to see skateboarding, definitely. Rad skateboarders.
“Thanks to Boris and Bob.”–Chris Ortiz