(Above Nick Boserio, gap frontside nosegrind.)
Every year New York skateboarders are struck with Seasonal Affective Disorder. We spend the warmer months glad that it's not cold, but at the same time talk shit on the heat and humidity. A constant sweat, the smells of rotting garbage, and waterlogged grip/boards are all hot topics--topics discussed over many an iced coffee or frosty beer while kicking around the old plank. There's a small window of a few weeks when the weather in New York is ideal and skateboarders' serotonin levels are spiking. The small window of hope turns into a black hole of depression and anxiety called winter. Winter is when you really lay into yourself and question your identity as a New York skateboarder. Why stay when LA is 80 and perfect every day? Why do we subject ourselves to such cruelty? The only way to make it another year is by heading to warmth and embracing whatever happens. This winter, we went Troppo and some of us never came back.
Words and photos by ZACH MALFA-KOWALSKI
The escape this time around was chartered for San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now, there are many reasons why people escape the cold winter: Some go for vacation, some for work; some go to trade whiskey for rum, and pizza for empanadas. All of these and more applied to our eclectic group of 20 individuals ready to sun-blister our pale, doughy wintered bodies.
Puerto Rico has been a hot spot as of lately in the mainstream skate world. For skaters from the Northeast, it's the perfect destination only a stone's throw away from Miami. Empty rugged plazas on the beach, cheap cold beer, and the foreign feeling of lawlessness had everybody frothing in anticipation.
Rice and beans, chicken, plantains, and a slew of Medalla Light were nourishment for our exile. After a heavy day of skating and heat exhaustion, men would disperse to local villas and cool their lids with a Palo Viejo health tonic. Awaking with swollen bellies and sunburned skin was inevitable. Our only hope for a good day relied on strong coffee and morning beach cleanses to wash away our sins from the night before.
Andrew Wilson (of the Brothers Wilson) made the smart move and achieved expat status by vibing with island time months prior to our arrival. With a gang of cars, we shuffled from spot to spot, darting around nearly the whole island. It is a small island, but we still found spots with no sign of Robert Lopez Mont. Of course, there are the local favorites and stuff we had all seen before, but there were seemingly towns that may have been skipped over in previous trips.
Thankfully, Nike SB and Alltimers had appointed us some help for the trip, so we employed security guard Dallas Todd to keep everyone in check and the spot is a go at all times. Besides a brief trip to the ER for Dallas, nobody messed with the Coney Island Kid. His security detail became more of a trip mascot, and morale was high as long as Dallas was around.
Toward the end of the trip we found one small town with a plethora of spots that seemed rather untouched. This was the only place we encountered trouble, as we were escorted out of the town by a caravan of policia. I'm glad they didn't get in any heat with Dallas Todd, for everyone's sake.
The plazas in Puerto Rico were a safe haven for us at all times of the day. A place with something for everyone in the squad, usually empty from the heat of the day and empty once again when it was time to chill at night. Whether it was preying on the spots they had to offer, the local cuisine nearby, or the various characters drinking and smoking in a similar vein as us, everyone was content. Not much can go wrong in the tropics except for the detriment of your mind when you mix long hours of sun and a surplus of cheap rum. Add the vibrations of a crew of 20 and you can "go troppo" quite easily.
Sessions had the roar of an army, which kept people motivated to keep skating until they had landed their tricks. One particular session ended just as it started raining while the sun set at the same time. The crew erupted as many landed tricks went down. This was cause for a celebratory night. Never have I been lured this far into the depths of darkness until every man banded together and memorialized the prior day's accomplishments.
As it grew darker, I was surprised no man was swept away in the ocean, as we had all become monsters of the night. After this night, everyone was a changed entity. Everyone awoke the next day in a sweat of confusion, dismayed at what happened the night before. Celebrations had ceased as we made place to travel homeward bound. Our sunburned hides made it back to our places of origin, but some of us left our minds in the thick humidity of the tropics.
Check out the Puerto Rico: Modern Day Rum Diary Tour Video here!