by Ricky Oyola I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of finding skate spots in South America. I knew there had to be some good things to skate. All we (Rob Gonzalez, Kenny Reed, Ryan Johnson, Ryan Gee, and 411 filmer Anthony Claravale) had to do was venture around the cities and find them. Before I left, I thought we’d spend most of our time in skateparks throughout Lima, Peru; and Quito, Ecuador; and most of our street skating would take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Turns out that all the skateparks in Lima were either filled in or demolished, and in Quito we only skated Skatepark De Carolina one day. There were a lot more street spots than any of us had expected.
Lima was our first, third, and fifth destination on our seventeen-day trip. We stayed in a little section away from downtown called Miraflores. The first day we cruised around looking for things to hit, and getting a feel for how the people reacted to skateboarding. When everybody decided to stop pushing, I eventually broke away and scouted the area to see what I could find. I found some good shit to skate along the way and luckily ran into two skaters willing to show us the hidden treasures Lima had to offer.
Our friends Renzo and Guillaume drove us out to a place called San Felipe, a ghetto-type community that had a couple of different little plazas to skate. RJ’s first trick of the trip was done here¿a monstrous banister grind, while Rob and Kenny ollied off a handicap ramp a story high. I swear, all the good shit is in the ghetto. Even though we never skated downtown, Lima had some good finds, especially the kinky black U with a huge hole in the tranny. We left some stuff to skate for the next time we passed through Lima. Next we were off to Quito.
Quito is located high up in the mountains, which means unpredictable weather and shortness of breath¿just running up the stairs from the pool winded me. We got situated in a really good hotel room for dirt cheap¿we were living large. Fifty dollars gave us over a million sucres (Ecuadorian currency). We felt like kings for the four days we were there.
Quito surprised us the most with the amount of street spots we found. I seriously thought we’d only skate the park and relax before we went to Buenos Aires, but as it turned out, we hired a driver for two days at 60 dollars a day to cart us around the city. Whenever any of us saw something that looked skateable, we had the driver stop.
We had him stop everywhere. Until we actually skated something, he probably thought we were crazy. Our first spot looked amazing from the car, but turned out to be kind of rough. This building had banks all the way around it that grew in size as you went down the block forming a couple of hips. We all got stuff here, but we had to work a lot harder to accomplish our tricks¿except for Ryan. He came prepared for the rough stuff by bringing an extra board with super soft wheels. RJ blasted wallies off the corner of the building, which couldn’t have been done with our regular boards. He had to push the whole block and surf the edge of the curb to even hit the wall. We were definitely having fun not doing demos.
After roaming through an outdoor market for an hour, we drove up into the hills to see what we could find. In the nice area it seemed like we were in San Francisco, in the bad area it felt like the Third World. We got good footage of kids sliding on pieces of wood down a steep cobblestone street. When we opened up the door they all tried to rush in. The whole time, I was thinking, “Thank goodness I live in Philadelphia.”
The second day we did the touristy thing and drove up to En La Mitad Del Mundo. This is the center of the world, and they actually have red tape on the ground for you to notice. Rob and Kenny got some ollie photos here, and we just dorked over the line for awhile. Anthony Claravall entertained us by eating a fish eyeball at lunch. A day visit to the center of the wworld is a must for anybody on vacation.
We waited ’til the last day to skate the park because of all the other stuff to skate in Quito. We were disappointed that the big bowl had water in it, but there was so much more to the park than what you saw in magazines or videos. It was smooth enough for our regular boards, but RJ was flying around on his big softy. If any day felt like a demo, it was that day. There were many people lined up and down the snakerun watching us. We all had a great time, and RJ put on a nice show with his transfers, TODOS DIAS.
It was time to head back to Lima for a day before departing for Argentina for a week. We met up with Renzo and Guillaume, and ate dinner at Larko Mar, the place we ate every day. RJ and I took our chances on the big kinky black U near the waterfront. I forgot to mention that Lima is very hot and dusty. Late that evening we were on a plane going south to Chile, then Buenos Aires, where we would spend our next week.
Buenos Aires is like the New York of South America in size and attitude. It rained our first two days there, which was lame, but we managed by hanging out with the locals. There are really good spots in BA, with plenty of good skaters. The scene there seemed to be as big as home. The city is huge and we didn’t come close to seeing what it had to offer. Ugi’s pizza was usually the food of choice, with two-dollar larges. I think that’s the only thing Gee ate the whole time in BA. I want to visit again real soon and spend the whole two weeks there, that way I’d be able to go down to Mar Del Plata and ferry over to Monte Video, Uraguay.
Our trip was coming to a close, and we could all feel it. A flight back up to Lima for a day and a half, then homeward bound¿we couldn’t wait. We had some problems with our flight back. It seemed that we were an hour early, so we missed our flight¿what really happened is that Lanchile Airlines had cancelled out flight. They tried to ease our anger by giving us free breakfast vouchers, but that wasn’t cutting it. From 6:00 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon, we were screwed.
We decided to take the free vouchers, which turned out to be ten-cent coupons on a twenty dollar meal¿thanks for nothing, Lanchile. Everybody else decided to sleep the hours away on the wooden benches, while I sat in the restaurant drinking beer the entire time. I made the best of it, as you will all see one day on video. I don’t remember the flight to Chile, so I can’t tell you anything of importance, but we had to wait another six hours in that airport as well, damn Lanchile.
We finally arrived in Lima for the last time. On the last day, Kenny grinded this sick ledge down stairs along this busy road. It was something he’d been eyeing since day one¿mission accomplished.
We all basically relaxed the last day, doing nothing but getting our stuff together. We all had little money left, so we stayed in the hotel drinking cocktails, and I fortunately got to watch game two of the hockey playoffs between Philly and Buffalo.
Our trip went off without any problems, except maybe for the country taxes and cab rides to and from the airports. The fact that we didn’t do any demos was the key to a successful trip that included fun. We got to be overly productive without the pressures of skating for people¿instead we got to skate with people.