Read the tour story below. A huge gallery of unseen photos is above for your viewing pleasure.
About three or four years ago, I saw a picture of the La Perla Bowl. I forget where. Most likely on that damn Interweb. I couldn’t forget how amazing this bowl that was on the edge of the ocean looked. I discovered that it was in Puerto Rico. I didn’t know much about the Island of Enchantment, but I knew I must skate that bowl in this life. I talked to friends about making a trip out there, but nothing materialized. After a while, it was about time to get a new Krux trip going. You know, get some team footy to promote the trucks and keep this Krux hype on the rise. When I saw that we were doing well with LV Sales (our Puerto Rico distributor), it clicked and I realized I may actually get to skate one of my dream spots. I hit up Cairo Foster—Krux rider, legendary pro, lover of ice cream, and my right-hand man when it comes to the team. He made some calls and the homies were down. Big-time homies like Silas Baxter-Neal, Caswell Berry, and Nestor Judkins.—Ron Whaley
Photos by Dave Chami
Cairo, Caswell, and Nestor were fresh off the throes of enjoi’s worldwide video premieres and ready to get back at it. We’d all done some research. The spots were lookin’ tight, and since it was November, the weather was just as enticing. Everyone was frothing to get out there and “send it” as the kids say… I think. Things were looking great ’til about a week before the trip when Silas had some fam issues and wouldn’t be able to go. Only a week’s notice and we needed a replacement bad. Enter Tommy muthafuckin’ Sandoval. Booyah. Crisis resolved.
Now, I feel like I must take a sec to apologize to the great state of Florida. This will be a mostly Puerto-themed article, but we actually spent the first four days of our trip in Miami. Our master of cinema (filmer) Joe Perrin used to live in Miami, so we knew the spots would be flowing like Mel Gibson’s mullet (Lethal Weapon). It also gave us a chance to visit Krux rider and skateboard mathemagician Danny Fuenzalida. Danny, in case you didn’t know, is really good on a skateboard. Hella good if I dare say. It’s the NorCal in me.
We shredded some tasty spots in Miami. I’d never been to the ghetto banks ’til then. They are very fun… and aptly named. Cross another spot off the life list. We got to skate them with Danny Renaud, which was a treat. We played SKATE in the cutty streets. Everyone fell down. I love skateboarding.
That night we rented a generator and lit up spots ’til 4:00 a.m. That’s some hardcore skater livin’ right there! You gotta want it, my friends. We skated this amazing rail that was in front of a liquor store. Despite the fact that it was Monday at midnight, the place was wylin’ out. Two chicks and a homie who were pretty fired up on who knows what were immediately alerted to our presence and started giving us a pretty hard time. The lights brought a lot of attention our way, and my ploy to blend in didn’t really work. Who me? Just a 6’7” white skateboarder with a pink button-up and a Mohawk… nothing to see here.
The sketchy sesh ensued, and as we began to warm up, our peanut gallery seemed to be making a change of heart. They started cheering us on when earlier they were openly saying they couldn’t wait to see someone smash their nuts on the thing. They were very loud and began to provide play-by-play commentary, which included nicknames for all of us. It was somewhat maddening and yet very entertaining. Caswell, who was wearing an enjoi shirt, was quickly named “Kung Fu Panda.” My haircut earned me “Chickenhawk,” and I was fine with that. Better than “Slim Shady,” which was their backup. Fuenz was deemed “The Rooster,” which was pretty G in the grand scheme. We all boardslid the thing, and good times were had. Dudes danced, and high fives were thrown. Our new fans got me kinda jazzed, and I decided to try a feeble. It was one of those iron rails with lots of vertical support bars. As I pushed at it, I thought to myself, “Ronald, the one thing you must not do, cannot do, is get into a twisted boardslide and catch your wheels in this thing. Of course that’s what I did. You know how people say when something traumatic happens how time slows down? Well, my opinion is that time stays the same but your brain goes so hyper-insane that you have like 10 complete thoughts in less than a second. As my wheel got caught in the rails and I began to fly, I thought: “Wow, Ronald, you just did exactly what you knew you shouldn’t and you are going to slam. I really shouldn’t have tried that trick. Here we go!” I tried to break through the cement into the next scene (like in that “Turn Down For What” video). I found no party below. Shoulda put more pelvis into it I guess. As I hit and hoped for the best, I caught eye contact with Joe. His look of horror told me my slam looked as good as it felt.
Our entourage was surprisingly empathetic. I immediately hopped up to catch my breath and make sure my limbs were still attached. The loudest of the crew came over to console me. Still reeling, I couldn’t get away before she rubbed my head and then ran her fingers along my face. Call it a hang-up, but I had bad skin as a teen and have a hard time letting girlfriends touch my face, let alone a stranger on the street in Miami, a street skeezer. At that moment I would have bobbed for apples in a tub of hand sanitizer. The other one who was really cheerleading me on said I was still the best. Thanks, babe. Although I think Danny may have been the only one of us to actually do a trick besides a boardslide. She asked for my autograph on her release papers. She’d just gotten out of jail that day. That would be our last night in Miami, and one I shan’t forget. Off to beautiful Puerto Rico.
First off, let me acquaint you with some island etiquette. I’d like to tell you about the Puerto Rican pullout. Sorry, but it isn’t as provocative as it sounds. You know when you want to drive across a busy intersection and you have to wait for an opening? Well, in Puerto Rico you don’t have to wait! You just go, man. Cars will slow down and let you through. It’s like a life trust exercise. Just trust the pullout method, you’ll be fine*. (*This statement should only apply to driving in Puerto Rico.) Needless to say, driving out there is a bit wild. You might see a donkey sittin’ shotty, and I don’t mean a chick from a dive bar. I mean a real-life fuckin’ donkey.
We shredded all over old town San Juan. Livin’ that delicious plaza life. Skating was productive. Juicy if you will. Cairo and Caswell were coming off of injuries and frothing to get back to ripping. And rip they did. Tommy proceeded to blow minds as always. Nestor steezed it out as only he can: deliciously. Let’s just say that in the near future there is some tasty footage of people riding trucks with holes in them. Krux, baby.
Between Tommy, Cairo, Caswell, Nestor, Joe, and myself, we had a pretty solid crew of rippers. My point being not to brag but that our history is rich. We’ve all seen some pretty heavy skateboarding go down at some pretty heavy spots. Throughout our time on the island and all the amazing plazas our local guides, Pito and Alberto, would show us, there was a reoccurring theme: RLM dominance. They would point to something crazy, and we would say, “Someone ollied this?!” To which the answer would be, “Yes, Robert did a kickflip, half Cab, et cetera…” Referring of course to Robert Lopez Mont. The things that man has done out there are heavy. Respect.
We did a demo for Wave Rebelz where the was a local contest. Before we skated the demo we did possibly the livest signing at a restaurant. DJ blasting dubstep at full volume. I wanted to dance.
The demo was fun and the locals were ripping. The future is lookin’ bright in PR! They had a hell of a hype man on the mic: “Get it, Berry! You got this Whaley [pronounced why-el-ee]. Good times! Everyone was so nice to us. Good peeps plus great food plus awesome weather plus rad skaters equals Puerto Rico.
Throughout the week I looked forward to skating my dream bowl on the beach: La Perla. Between our demo, street-skating plans, and some rain, we decided to hit the bowl the last day. We went later in the afternoon. It had been getting progressively windier during the week and was really gusting. So much that the wind was blowing ocean spray directly into the bowl. Freshly painted, it looked very pretty, but the entire thing was deadly icy. Caswell unintentionally tested the waters and immediately slid out. T-Gunz and Alberto rolled around a bit. As envious as I was, I don’t mess around like that. I’ve seen people skate wet spots in the past and get seriously served, and I fall too hard. I didn’t dare risk being a 40-year-old Bambi on ice. Tommy is a savage and did a front blunt in the shallow. I tried to come to terms with the possibility that I might not skate what I yearned for years to ride.
One should always fight failure. Tooth and nail. I came up with a scheme to hit it before our flight the next morning. Chami is a stud and was willing to wake up with me at 5:00 a.m. to give it a shot. By 6:15 a.m., I was in the bottom of the bowl ruining three hotel towels trying to dry the damn thing. Morning dew, sea mist, and fresh paint made it hard to even climb in and out of. Skating wasn’t going to happen. Simultaneously, Cairo was at another spot trying to get a trick that eluded him earlier on the trip. A couple last-minute Larrys realizing five days in Puerto wasn’t enough. To get halfway around the world to one of the few spots you intend to skate in life and see the opportunity slip… Well, yeah, you can guess how I felt. On the drive back to the airport I had to pull over to clean the windshield. I took the opp to belt out a primal “Fuuuuck!!!!” roar. I think I got a good half-mile radius on that one. I immediately felt better. Had to let it out. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be frustrated. Diagnosing your anger and figuring out how to blow off the steam is the important part. If we won every battle, we wouldn’t appreciate success.
For the next few weeks, every time I thought about the trip a very motivated voice in my head would scream, “You are going back!” It was the difference between success and failure to me. Self-defining. Black and white. I wasn’t sure how. I would have happily paid my own way to get someone to shoot an Insta photo of it, but thankfully there was enough merit to go back with the team. We still had Silas’ ticket, so he was hyped to get a second chance to go. We knew the spots. Cairo was down and found us cheap tickets. It was on.
Two months later, as the mainland was in the throes of winter, we were heading back to the eternally 80-degree island. This time we went to La Perla the first day. Middle of the sunny day, not too windy, should be perfect. Imagine my feeling when we got there and it was wet. It wasn’t as bad as the first time we went. Only half of it was moist. I brought two beach towels and managed to make a semi-dry line. I started trying some airs and realized it might happen. Then it did. I remember looking up into the clouds and thanking the heavens. Then all of a sudden it didn’t seem like a big deal. Silas totally ripped it and we had fun. Then Chami’s head popped up from behind the bowl, “We need to get in the fucking van now!” he said in a voice of next-level seriousness. One of the reasons the bowl looks so rad is that it’s in a colorful, yet rough neighborhood. He didn’t have to say anything else. We grabbed our stuff and hopped in the van. A man with a handgun drawn told us to get out of the van. Then we saw his badge and realized it was a cop. He and his female partner looked straight out of CSI. Thankfully they weren’t looking for us. Dude got a call on the radio and they ran away, leaving us a bit unnerved yet thankful.
We reunited with Pito and Alberto as well as getting to shred with Alexis Rivera and his friend on the other side of the island. They took us to all sorts of stuff. Thanks so much, fellas! We had slightly fewer riders the second round. That was fine because Silas was on a 10-hour-a-day skate regimen, and it was all our media squad could do to keep up. Did I mention that we got mad Krux footy coming out? Keep an eye out. Big-time thanks to Luis at LV Distribution, Roberto “Pito” Santana, Alberto Santiago, Alexis Rivera, John Feliu, TransWorld, Dave Chami, and of course everyone we met and who supports Krux Trucks!