Documentary by Thomas Fachtan (@fachison)
Words by Florence Zueger of WAW swiss
Photos made with love by @frydfacherso
Mas Momentos, Mas Amigos
For me it started with losing Serge at the gate. Last calls were being made and the dude was nowhere! Finally I discovered him being accompanied by a police officer… while the stewardess was hurrying us inside, he told me: they wanted to look inside the tool box, they asked: wtf are you planning to do?
A few hours, bad airplane sandwiches and a car ride with a farting dog later we met JP and Leo in Puerto Engabao! They greeted us with beers as it should be, shortly after we fell asleep. Fresh and clean the next day we started to build racks in our very own workshop next to the building site. We were super lucky to have this space for us and it even fit a radius-cutting table! Waiting for the big digger to show up we had plenty of time to cut all the radiuses, build tents and go shopping. By the time the first volunteers arrived we were ready to go with the park layout dug out. Thanks to the legend Serge we had a laser and saved at least three days of work! Everyone was super stoked but wouldn’t use it without him. Hence the nickname Laserman!
With the people arriving, Leo and JP gave everyone the responsibility for a piece. They even offered me to create my very own. As I think spines are super fun and flowy and after consulting with my building-buddy and also spine-lover Leandra it was clear what to do. Right before we started with the piece, Leo told us to look at the park again and think about our decision, if it really fits. It took us approximately 5 seconds to be sure, it absolutely does. Since it was our first time building a spine and planning a piece from beginning to end by ourselves, we appreciated every help and tip. And when it came to making the boss happy (yeah I know he’s not the boss) we chose the swiss way and set the height not at his favourite 50 and not at our favourable 60, but at 55 centimetres.
Constructing the piece and especially leveling it took a toll on us. Again we were super happy to have the Laserman and our experienced friends with us, helping and explaining every step. It was an amazing learning experience and opportunity for us, so thank you bosses! Funnily, it wasn’t the piece itself but the tent that made Leandra almost give up. There were only different screws and shabby wood left to build it but I insisted on it as it was hot af during the day. It turned out to be fckn massiv, Leo calling it a house. And we put it up right when a guy from politics showed up regarding funds. At this point Silvan was holding a bamboo on his head while Mike sawed in it, towards his head. Professionals. The tent stood though and the politician paid for some reebars. All good.
With this piece but also in general on this project, I learned how amazing it feels to start something and finish it even though inbetween you think: what the fuck, I can’t do this! What am I doing? Is this ever gonna end! Especially afterwards it’s hard to remember the path there and you feel invincible.
Speaking of invincibility, coming back from a quick dip in the ocean a woman on the rocks motioned Lenny and me that someone was drowning. Because it was Easter weekend at least 50 people were standing at the beach watching this kid drown. Why? Because no one can swim, let alone know how to save someone. Luckily we passed this part of the beach every day and knew exactly that there’s always a big board leaning on the wall. And luckily Lenny is a certified lifeguard, experienced with a surfboard. It was a really close call, the rather big youth panicking and pulling another guy under water who tried to help him. They all survived, we got offered free meals and drinks and Lenny’s picture is probably hanging in one or two houses now.
In between building on the spine and saving lives we worked as a team, getting the other pieces ready and rocking the concrete sessions of course. We managed to do the tranny of the bowl in two pours, working late into the night. After these two days Franklin, one of the initiators of the land we got, invited us to a traditional Easter meal. Since he has a pool and a big garden he played party music, to which we all fell deep asleep. After this one lay day we started to pour concrete every day! In the morning prep, followed by a siesta in the hammock until 4 and then a concrete mission. The ones who still had enough energy went surfing in the morning before breakfast or before lunch. Leo managed to cut his feet open on the first day of the project because he jumped from the rocks into the line up. Even though we all warned the others, Jan and Lenny managed to do the same and Lou-Anne cut her foot on the fin. Meaning before going to the construction site together all of them were bandaging their feet and licking their wounds. As Serge would say: Surfing is very dangerous!
Surviving these intense concrete days was mainly possible because of Chuy and his playlist on repeat and because of Throw dancing while working. Plus, we were fed on site by la Mamacita and her sons, making it possible to go straight into the finish after the last bite. The shop closest to us probably made their sales of the year with our beer and ice cream consumption and the dogs surrounding the skatepark are now living a lice-free life. Unfortunately we had to put down one of them, asking the owner for days for permission; Fresa can finally rest in peace now.
A special place in everyone’s heart got the three dogs Pato, Cannella and Chiquita of our legendary host. They followed us everywhere, cuddled us, and watched the whole park coming along. They are fit and healthy thanks to Chino who also kept us fit and healthy with comfy beds, private bathrooms and ten hammocks. Once a week his brother-in-law managed a shitload of dirty ass laundry which came back almost white! His mother-in-law cooked the best breakfast and his wife managed the other meals we pre-ordered, including veggie and watching out not to kill Lenny with nuts.
Definitely a mention deserves the baby of our boss and Laserman; the whale tail! A free standing, 2 metre high ramp shaped like the tail of the kings and queens of the ocean. For sure we used the most wood on this piece and in every decision the whale tail was included. Is it really wise to build a spine on the runway towards this piece? It turned out to be an absolute beauty and underlines the scenery of the village perfectly.
When the last concrete was poured and the last finish was made, we had the best fiesta on site, dirty and all. Even when it started to rain we didn’t care. Everyone indulged in the music of cumbia and reggaeton, and wheelbarrows of beer and rum were brought to our feet. The rain inspired Lenny to try the park, not on his skateboard but on his bare body. It turned out the finish was so good that he almost slipped over the whale tail to death if there hadn’t been the plywood that Leo actually wanted to take away if Serge didn’t forbid it. So Lenny is still alive even though he’s going to wear a nice scar on his belly for the rest of his life. No shits given, we partied into the morning hours, knocking at the closed shop to buy more beer (which they really sold us) and skinny dipped super drunk in the fishing harbour. The surprise came the next morning when Chino told us that a video is circulating in the village group chats of a naked Lenny. You got to know drinking and being loud is absolutely no problem here, but being NAKED! Shame on you! Anyways, the only one being a dick about it was the pastor, the others considered it rather funny.
Opening day was amazing too. The kids and the people coming from the closest city never really have skate parties. So the best trick competitions and the skate sessions were wild! They skated until the early morning hours and we even put bets on how many are gonna be injured because it was absolute mayhem, people doing ollies into the deep end while three were skating the bowl. Next to the official opening with the major and some drummer kids, we organised two punk bands and could finally show the Lations how we dance in Europe. The night ended with Chuy getting a pig tattooed on his leg and a crew wearing smiles from ear to ear.
Since we finished the park within 20 days we had the opportunity to skate the finished park a lot and especially skate with the kids and the locals! We managed to do some beautiful mosaics and make sure all the stoked kids got a good set up. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without our main sponsors The Skateroom, Grenoble Skatepark and Totem! Furthermore, a big thanks goes out to each and everyone who donated on the crowdfunding and to doodah who supported its riders! Also the support in Pt. Engabao itself was overwhelming; from the comuna who gave us materials to the locals who gave us free accommodation, food, love and support! The selfless generosity of these people here is really admirable! Last but not least the crew, the dream team, the bosses were absolutely brilliant! Even though we were a lot of Swiss (Swiss Army) and French (French Revolution) people, it seems astonishing and beautiful to me that we got along and worked together so well as we did. Much love to the big and small doooogs, what’s good?!
P.S. Chuy, are you home yet?
Article by Florence Zueger