I was excited to go on my second trip to Spain. I loved it the first time, and on my second visit I felt I could live there. The Spanish have life dialed in; it seems much simpler there—granted the petty theft and the lack of common household things like water pressure and heated water can be a pain in the ass, but Spaniards have a different outlook on life.
We landed in Bilbao first. Jani Laitiala, Anthony Claravall, and I took a hundred-dollar cab ride to Javier Sarmiento’s hometown of Vittoria. Javier was supposed to pick us up from the airport but didn’t manage to make it.
Vittoria is a beautiful little village in the northern Spain. Javier’s home’s awesome—situated in the center of town—and if I can remember right, it was built in the nineteenth century.
We were now in Basque country. Fliers about jailed terrorists trying to free the Basque country from Spain were posted all over the city. I guess the North has been trying to be its own country for years. I’m pretty sure Javier said this has been going on his whole life, and I could tell that was the case, because he didn’t seem as interested in the photos on the wall as I was.
Javier played the good host in his hometown by taking us to amazing lunches every day. The Spanish like to eat and relax—I could get used to that.
In Spain, common criminal mischief is quite often overlooked. You can shoot up in the park, nab someone’s camera, or even mug someone without the cops ever taking notice. Of course, something of this nature always happens to skateboarders, namely us.
We were filming and shooting photos in a park located in the center of Vittoria when we noticed some junkys fighting in the distance. We thought nothing of it and kept to ourselves until one junky started beating up another junky. I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of the massacre that was happening right in front of my face. Anthony proceeded to film it also, until a third junky noticed him filming and told junky number two. Junky two got real mad and tried to take Anthony’s camera. This started a Spanish yelling match. I was ready to clock the guy with my board, but was hesitant because my camera gear that was still spread around. Finally, Anthony just gave him the tape, losing a couple valuable tricks of Javier, but saving the camera. Later Javier told us the guy was claiming to have a knife, but Javi thought he was bluffing. I’m glad I didn’t whack him with my board—I’d hate to get stabbed with a old rusty knife.
While in Barcelona I renamed it Barcelosangeles for the amount of American skateboard pros present in the city. It was awesome having all these skateboarders concentrated in one area—it made it really easy to get my job done. Every day I’d show up at MACBA (Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art) and hook up with anyone from Dustin Dollin and Arto Saari to John Rattray—there was a mix of all kinds of skateboarders.
A Proper Gypsy Mobile
Arto, Jani, and the Finnish posse had their own apartment from the spring of 2002 and kept it throughout the summer. Arto bought a cherry old silver Mercedes and first described the car to me as a “Proper Gypsy Mobile.” And that it was. The first time they took it out on an adventure, I was crammed in this German mobile with the Finnish posse like a pack of sardines.
Spaniards are the worst drivers ever. The rules of the road are, there are no rules. I was scared for my life a few times. Being the designated driver for the rental car we had, I almost crashed trying to change lanes in a roundabout. I must have been about two inches from someone else’s car. I nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to drive in Spain.
Memories Are Made Of This
John Rattray and his wife also had a place right in the center of town—a gorgeous three-bedroom place with two balconies. I enjoyeed their company very much—the relief of hanging out and having a stimulating conversation. Rattray has been one of my favorites since last year in Spain when I got to witness his raw talent. I felt lucky to be able to shoot with him more than a few times while I was there.
Everyone I got to shoot with on this trip ended up a real treat. Rodrigo Teixeira was nonstop amazing, of course—the most natural talent I’ve ever seen. I’ll never get tired of shooting with him. Jani Laitiala’s on a mission, and he proceeded to kill it—backside lipslide on a thirteen-stair rail first try. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jani is going to be a contender. He’s driven. I ended up kicking it with Danny Montoya every day. He’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. Managed to shot some solid photos of Danny, too.
I didn’t want to leave, yet I was exhausted, the heat was killing me, and among other things, my time in Spain ran out.