Travel Report/Linda

„Why aren’t you just going to Costa Rica?“ was the answer of a friend to my question where i could go to get away from German winter, learn some spanish and do skateboarding of course.

In some way I already heard something about Pura Vida Skateboarding and thanks to the good connections in between the skateboard scene it was easy to get in contact with Christian and Miriam, the long-term volunteer in Perez. I am not a huge fan of “traditional” tourism and was glad about taking part in the project for some time and that for getting a kind of insight of the country and its people. Being volunteer at Pura Vida doesn’t mean to have a 08/15 daily life job, it’s more about giving your own knowledge to the kids using the method of workshops. And this doesn’t necessary need to work via’s up to you. At least this is how I got it. Shortly before I left Germany, Miriam and I agreed on especially focussing on the girls and pushing them in skateboarding. Besides that we wanted to do two video nights and one day workshop, where we wanted to print shirts with all kids.

The remaing time I would spend time with daily life in the project – means skateboarding with the little and big kids. Dream job!

Now it’s almost two weeks I am back to Germany, there was hardly any winter, abilities in Spanish – not to talk about, but my head is full of new impressions and ideas, that haven’t really settled.

The two weeks from 31st of January to 12th February at the Pura Vida headquarter in San Isidro five minutes from the skatepark at Casa Miriam passed rapidly like I did not expect any other way.
The first session at the park was definitely a challenge – on the one hand the park itself that questioned my own abilities on board and made me feel like a bloody rookie (One of the biggest problems for me was the not existing flat, but the transitions are also a big issue. But means also, once gotten it – big never-ending fun!). On the other hand there were the kids, talking vividly to me in Spanish. I am still sorry for not even in the end getting more than one third of it. Before my trip I was warned for thieving several times and with German over-caution I ran after some kids not only once, asking if they left the park with their own board. I also paid close attention after I had given my board to someone. I am also sorry for this mistrust – I’ve always gotten back all my stuff.

My personal impressions – first of all skateboarding is just international – means all over the world it’s my favourite thing to use to get in contact with other people. Playing a game of skate (“Dome un bruto?”), pushing and celebrating each other, chilling in the shadow, practising new tricks, or just cruising and having a session together – San Isidro is not making a difference. What stands out – not every has his own board, the shoes are totally worn down and everything is ridden to the bitter end. At the moment there is only one really used project board for the boys and girls that don’t have one. The need is definitely bigger! Not visible everywhere the ticos life-standard is clearly lower than our. (Very) little salaries and prices similar to those in Germany seems to be one of the main reasons. At this point thanks especially to Timo, Barney and Aga for all the stuff. I worried myself afterwards not having stuffed more shoes in my bag. I wouldn’t had them skated anyway because I am in the good situation of being able to buy new ones when a pair is having the first holes.

An usual day in San Isidro looked roughly the following: Coffee, Pinto and if energy was good having the first skate session at 8:30 am. From 11 on it is so hot that only not moving under the tree is possible. While I have to wait, the kids start about 1 pm to roll again. Lending my board, explaining tricks with hands, feet and bits of words, taking pictures, kicking bikers of the spot are main duties during the day. From 5 to 6 pm coming loose on board, planning the next day, leisure-time.
Once a week there is one hour at the local children’s home. There we had been taken the boards out of our hands already at the door. Sitting, standing and up to three people on one board the kids blustered through the open gym till the last minute. Hard to find word but this situation had much potential for goosebumbs and was again a perfect example for the miracle skateboarding.

Here there are also more boards needed. Besides the project board there are always as many boards as locals with their own are going.

Unfortunately, the skate sessions with the girls did not take place as often as we wished them to just because the girls didn’t show up. Like I know from Germany, there is some shyness trying out stuff in front of the boys. Missing idols might be one reason. But here there is again the lack of skateboards. A little female ripper did her first drop-ins in sandals during my stay. Of course in Costa Rica there are also girls that use their skateboard like an addition to their purse. But not many – having one only for that luxury no one can afford. One night we showed only female fronted skatevideos at the park. Unfortunately there were only guys watching but I think some of them were really astonished by the skills of ladies like Marissa Santos, Elissa Steamer, Amy Caron and others. Luckily with Miriam they have an impassionate example for women on board at their own spot.

For a second video-night Francisco Saco and some other locals from San Jose and Heridia were invited to Perez. After an intense skatesession from midday on and streetskating in the centre in the late afternoon we showed “Video Diays”, Franciscos skate documentary with footage of Costa Rica, Barcelona and Berlin, as well as “CR surplus” with only skateboarding in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, the sound was really quiet, but Franciscos amazing moderation totally compensated for that circumstance! Thanks for the support!

My last day at the project we did the shirt workshop. First, stencils were cut from paperboard, then they were used with spray cans to colour the shirts. The shirts were donated by aga from Ploonk/Berlin, paperboard and colours we had bought at the local shops before. From ten in the morning the big and little kids were as keen as mustard and some curious neighbours also stopped by. The main highlight was the Pura Vida logo, whose stencil Fabian conjured up with in the shortest time. A few hours later everyone was proudly running around in a Pura Vida Shirt. If that is not gonna rule the market! Besides some ramps get coloured as well.

So that’s about it in time-lapse. I can just advice anyone who is close by, visit the place, have a good session (and leave old boards and shoes!). Or, if you have some time left, talk to Christian about an idea for a workshop and give your skills to others. Hello to Perez, hasta luego!

Pura Vida! Linda

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