I've always been a little confused by why so many Brazilians migrate to Costa Mesa, California. What is it about the Orange Curtain that is inviting to such a different culture? Is it the weather? Easy access to their sponsor's warehouse? Or maybe the health crowd that demands breakfast ice cream (acai) like in their homeland. Anyways, I don't have an answer for such a question, but I will forever be fascinated by the amount of Brazilian legends I've met there.-Cole Mathews
Photos by Brian Gaberman
In November, Element decided to visit our extended family in Brazil to shoot photos, and do community events typical of what you'd expect from us. We've been renting houses instead of hotels on our trips for the past few years because the vibe is better and we can pile in extra people on the trip and not get kicked out. I hadn't been to Brazil in 10 years, and this trip was centered around skating in Brasilia—a place I knew almost nothing about except that Felipe Gustavo is from there, and he's pretty good, so the spirits were high on the location choice.
So the trip almost didn't happen. Seriously, I had to write everyone and tell them we might have to cancel because I neglected to get everyone's visas in time. I thought one month was a solid amount of time. Wrong. America makes it incredibly hard for any foreigner to visit our lovely country, and Brazil simply returns the favor. But luckily, knowing Scuba Steve is like having money in the bank! Mason told him our situation, and he put me in contact with some magical visa company called Peninsula Visa in LA, and we were good in three days. I'm still on cloud nine from having it work out, because I went to the embassy and was told there is no way in hell we were able to go given such short notice. Lesson learned.
We flew into Brasilia all hung over from pills and sleeping remedies from the plane ride and showed up at the house we would call home for the next nine days. Immediately upon arrival to the property, we began to inspect every room to decide which was better suited for us as individuals. I made a terrible mistake: I roomed with Mason, which is bad enough, but then my real mistake was choosing the bedroom with the one working toilet. I hope I don't need expand on the wait times, noises, smells, and overall urgency associated with a house for 13 with one working bathroom. But it ended up not being a big deal at all—we made fun of each other's loud pooping and encouraged one another to eat more greens and such. The house owners were there with us and were fucking amazing, insanely welcoming and all kinds of cool. We partied together a lot and went skating together almost every day. Best-case scenario for sure. Love you, Mauricio!
Brasilia is amazing, straight up. It's not crowded, it doesn't smell, there's not a lot of poverty, it's central in the country so it has a crazy diverse population, and the spots are cool. We would pile into a huge van every day and skate probably five or six spots, which is wild with a group that large. While we were there we met up with our DC bros on some insane tour they were doing all over South America. It's always nice to see friends in other countries.
We ate ceviche, drank beers, and played dice all night long. We also visited the forest about two hours outside the city; the private property we went to had a massive waterfall and staggering pools of crystal turquoise gem-colored water with enormous ferns and flora I had never seen before. No real wildlife besides huge lizards and such, but that day was unreal—very positive vibes with our crew as usual.
On the way back we stopped in a small town and skated this amazing skatepark sculpture combo at Mauricio's homie's family house. This dude had it all: He had built a massive cement park with all kinds of cool shit, he built a pizza oven into one of the hip humps, he had a 65-year-old tortoise cruising around, and he had the biggest smile in the world when he saw Evan and Klaus casually and politely killing his creations. Although we didn't speak much to one another because of the language barrier, we all kept hugging and pounding beers together, so I think we are all best friends now. Other than that we just skated and ate a ton of acai and barbecued cheap steaks. I'm really proud of the people involved with Element in Brazil—they treated us like brothers and shared an immeasurable amount of stoke with us as well.