Words & Photography By Blair Alley
Skaters have said nothing but awesome things about Mexico City for years. It's a sprawling metropolis with skate spots for days, a population of over 21 million, endless tacos, and a generous exchange rate for visiting Americans. It's just a short three hour flight from San Diego and we were finally there, meeting up with our international crew: Josh "JZ" Zickert from NYC, Brandon "Bonestalone" Bonner from Virginia, Chris Kays from Hawaii, brothers Jose and Juan Pablo Velez from Medellin, Colombia and our sweet and tender filmer Paulgarrr fresh from Los Angeles. Our local tour guides Pelukaz, Yair, and, Alonso were waiting at the MEX airport with a 1970s VW bus and this trip was off and running! The first night the crew appeared on Mexico City's favorite web-streamed skate show "Estubo De Huevos" which translates in Mexican slang to "got you by the balls." Bonestalone and Jose, aka "Tal Cual" closed out the show with a lengthy, smoke-filled freestyle. Check episode 1 video!
Mexico City is literally an endless concrete playground. Our first full day started with a session in an old 70s-style bowl sitting quietly in a tree-shaded apartment building courtyard in the Tlatelolco neighborhood. Just a few metro stops away we hit up the famed Chabacano banks. Insurentes is the Broadway of Mexico City. We skated so many epic spots on this street alone. Just outside our morning café located in Bella Artes was a block-long perfect granite ledge with adjacent stairs and butter smooth flatground. Monument a la Revolucion, located just a few blocks from our apartment is officially knows as the tallest triumphal arch in world. It stands at 220 feet tall and has an absolutely amazing view of the entire city. Jose and Juan Pablo took advantage of the scenery and scooped footy for their rap video. Other neighborhoods we tapped for spots were Plaza de las Tres Culturas, Condesa, Polanco, Juárez and La Universidad.
As for transportation, the Mexico City Metro (STC) is the second largest in North America behind New York City and is extremely efficient, with trains arriving every few mintues. It takes you throughout the city for the equivalent of a quarter. Too tired from a full day of skating to huff it to the nearest metro stop? Just get an Uber home for three bucks.
As Mexican food is a favorite of Americans, it makes sense that a trip to Mexico is going to be well received on the culinary side of things. Delicious and cheap food is ideally what you want on any trip, and when you're getting per diem, this was a solid win-win. The taco stand outside our apartments had five chorizo tacos for 30 pesos, which is a buck fifty. If you felt like splurging, a block away was a restaurant that turned us on to huaraches: A corn tortilla with refried beans baked into it, then topped with carnitas, steak, or any number of toppings. Price? 60 pesos. Beers? 25 pesos! This was the tricks and tacos tour after all.
Our fearless leader JZ had been to Mexico City a few times already and knew where to book lodging. We got two apartments in the heart of downtown with windows that opened up to amazing views of the city every morning, an elevator operator (actual person) 24 hours a day (even if he did fall asleep sometimes), and they even let us lurk on the roof and get some amazing shots of the city. Party-wise, the crew kept it mellow, staying in at night, shooting dice and gambling on basketball shots (yes JZ brought his own hoop). However on the last night we rewarded ourselves with a night out on the town. Roma district is the spot where you can bar hop, taste tapas and gaze upon the gorgeous Mexican women. You can also stumble into Under Bar, which looks like a three story haunted house, with 80s music on one floor and industrial on the next with a vampire DJ! DJ Nosferatu, play that funky music!
From a photographer's standpoint, you can't ask for a more photogenic city. Ancient Maya ruins still lay in the city center, flanked by hundred-year-old churches. Mexico City is famous for its art and museums, and many parts of the city look and feel like one great big outdoor exhibition. Giant, skateable monuments sit in serene parks, colorful concrete sculptures are positioned right outside metro stop escalators--truly some video game level stuff. Touring with the AriZona crew was awesome. We skated our asses off every single day and had a blast doing it. Can't wait for the next tour with these assassins.