Words & photos by Josh Zickert
Leaving NYC in the middle of winter to skate South America for a month was the best decision ever. The plan was to premiere the new Natty Kon video and skate the streets tough in Chile and get footage for a Chile segment in the next NK video.
I landed in Santiago, the capital city of Chile and took the metro directly to the coolest spot in the city, Diamond Skate Shop. Natural Koncept pro Adrian McElhaney had already contacted Spiro Razo and his brother Stavros, two of the raddest skaters in Chile to prepare them for my arrival. So we met up at Diamond and I got to meet the owners of the shop, Jamie, Cedric and Andre. It's like a super classic style record/skate shop stocked with rare vinyl and hundreds of photos from skate mags all over the walls. From that point I was introduced to "PLAC" and Felipe Lavin and we were off skating the magnificent streets of Santiago.
Every single day at 4p.m. I would meet up with the skaters at Diamond Skate Shop. It was the middle of summer and super hot--on average it was like 37 degrees celcius (which is like 97 farenheit). I was drinking up to 10 bottled Cokes or Fantas each day.
The main spots were located on the Providencia, which is like the Broadway of Santiago. This avenue pretty much runs through the entire city. It's full of endless spots--marble banks, street gaps, ledges, colored bumps, fountains, sculptures with transitions, unique double sets, stages/manny pads in the plazas, etc. There are so many monuments scattered throughout the city it's wild. The police were relaxed and the sessions went off. Plaza Italia, Plaza De Armas, Recoleta, and Barrio Brazil, Indepencia, Conchali were districts we skated tough. They even had one popular avenue in honor of the World Trade Center attacks appropriately named 11 de Septiembre.
Around 2a.m., after skating all day, we would end up at a number of discotheques in the Recoleta district and after that, a house party. The Chileans sure know how to break it down on the dance floor!
I stayed at a hostel next to the metro stop Bella Artes, which was in the center of the city. There was the best restaurant on the block with delicious empenadas and fresh mini pizzas. That's how I started each day along with some fresh Naranaja juice. Completos, a traditional hot dog with fresh salsa verde and mayonnaise served up in style were also consumed daily. They have hot dog shops on nearly every corner!
Diamond Skate Shop threw the Creepin' for Life Santiago video premiere the day before I left at Jon Allen's indoor mini ramp. It was a Saturday afternoon and we had a big BBQ. It was a killer session and an awesome last day in Santiago--until later that night we were skating a plaza with some benches and all hell broke loose with gangstas runnin' after us throwing bottles and rocks. One of the guys with us got hit in the head and was bleeding from his mouth. It all started when we were filming this woman freaking out in the street--wasted, swinging a wooden pole at pedestrians, etc--and the next thing you know, out of nowhere it's a full on "run for your life" situation--craze! We all had to split in different directions. We linked up at a plaza 15 blocks away. We drank a few beers in the park and went to Club Barcelona for a hip-hop show. It was a big bash and one hell of a farewell to Santiago!
The next day I met up with PLAC and Felipe to film one last trick and than jumped on a two-day bus ride across Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. All the skaters I met in Santiago had such a rad vibe and believed in skateboarding to the fullest--Respect! And look out for Natural Koncept boards distributed in Chile through Diamond. Booya!
A big shout out to the skate crews in Santiago and Valparaiso:
Benjamin Bustos – "Benja", Carlos Johannes "Carloco", Andre, Jamie & Cedric from Diamond, "NESS", Spiro Razi, Chino, Stavros Razi, Juan Jose "Cohete" Moraga, Etiel Rojas, Ipanema, Marcelo "Pirana" Castillo, Patricio "Pato" Albornoz, Marcelo "Cubano" Munizaga, "Beecho", "PLAC" & Felip Lavin. Jairo Andres Gonzalez Gaete and the 437 crew.