Skateboarding has changed in Mexico. Just ask Javier “Java” Leon. “When we first started skating 20 years ago, there were no skate parks in Puerto Vallarta. We skated the streets, we spent most of our time looking for spots and running away from the police. It was a different time.” he explains with a shrug. “Kids these days have it so much easier.”
Java and Humberto “Wero” Guzman are founders of the Puerto Vallarta Skate League and the driving force behind the Puerto Vallarta Skate Park which began 10 years ago with a couple of homemade rails, a foam box full of river stones and shitload of determination.
“When I first started skating, me and six friends shared one board,” laughs Wero. “Somehow, that one shared skateboard really changed me, I was 100% committed to skating, I was 12 years old. I don’t think I have passed even one day since without at least skating in front of my house. I skate every day.”
In 2017, with the help of the Build Ramps Not Walls project and local DIY ramp builder Emilio Fernandez, Java and Wero brought together a team of volunteers and donors and built the first half pipe in Downtown Vallarta. They also built several rad skate features into the Puerto Vallarta Skatepark. For the first time in the history of the Vallarta skate scene, the park had flow and unique, challenging jumps, ramps and boxes that help the kids improve their game.
The new skatepark quickly became the center of the skate scene for the younger generation of skaters and in June of this year, Java and Wero held the first ever Puerto Vallarta skate competition as a part of the Mexican National Skate Games promoted by the Mexican Government. Over 30 kids from ages 14-19 came out for the competition, presided over by local skate legends from the 1980s pro-circuit in Guadalajara. While these little rippers put on a great show, the judges made the hard decision to cut the crew down to four.
These four young skaters have become the first ever Puerto Vallarta Skate team and have since gone on to the state level and soon to the national level Mexican Skate Games. Mauricio “Mauri“, Isaac “Chane“, Eduardo “Champi” and Kevin have been skating together for years on the streets of the town, but they are in a new world now. With Wero and Java guiding them at every step, this four man crew has seen that their passion and commitment to what they love could actually lead somewhere. Imagine if you could focus your future on doing exactly what you love to do every waking moment… until now, this opportunity did not exist for skaters in this coastal town.
Words by Rebecca Scotti