Photos by Zach Baker
With winter coming back around tomorrow, now may be a good time to vicariously live through the week we spent in Puerto Rico at the start of 2015. The island’s status as skateboarding’s premier tropical getaway for ~$300 RT has been well-documented on the internet this winter: Lakai spent some time there, all the dudes from Richmond who are heavy on Vine were just there, and the Most Productive Crew™ in New York skateboarding has still yet to release all documented material from their February trip.
Our time spent two months ago was not very “productive” in the traditional sense, as the purpose of the trip was leisure rather than business and/or skateboarding. Most of the footage came via winter Puerto Rican resident, Alexander Mosley, who just put together a clip for his website, Watermelonism.com.
We covered the San Juanese skateboard getaway phenomenon on the site last year, but we did get to travel a bit around the east side island this time around. That means dipping into towns with a couple beachside skate spots, and higher amounts of chickens and stray dogs running around than in the more Americanized San Juan. One of the highlights was a day trip to Vieques, which can be seen throughout the final minute of the above clip, in addition to the opening Al Davis line / Jake Johnson ollie up the stage, 5050 the hubba in the GX1000 “PM Puerto Rico” clip.
The view as the ferry pulls in.
Vieques is an island just off the eastern coast of mainland Puerto Rico. It is about twice the size of Manhattan, and the majority of it has been under U.S. Naval control since the early 1940s. The original idea was that if England was taken over by the Nazis during World War II, Vieques could serve as a temporary home for Britain’s naval fleet. It has since been a testing site for bombs (what’s more American than owning a beautiful island and deciding to use it for exploding shit?), and those detonations have been linked to higher cancer rates among residents of the island.
It also has a really good plaza spot.
On our last full day in Puerto Rico, we got up at 6 A.M. to make the hour-long drive to Fajardo, from where you take a two-dollar, 80-minute ferry to Vieques. When you get off the ferry, you walk up a hill and see a huge open space (scalding midday sun) with infinite marble ledges, smooth brick ground, and big stage off which the few local kids who skate will stop by to do kickflips down. Nobody bothers you. After the sunburn sets in and you land a few tailslides, you can skate back over to the ferry, walk into the bar, and find a “cab driver” to drive you to the beach. You may have to wait for him to finish his drink before he gets behind the wheel, but it’s Puerto Rico: the most lawless place in the “United States.”
If you stumble on a small fortune, Vieques might be a decent place to move to with a chill girl uninterested in a fashion career and a stack of boards you may-or-may-not use, and do nothing in for the remaining forty years of your life.
If you’re tempted to go back to civilization, there’s a cool bank-to-ledge to skate as you wait for the last outbound ferry at 6 P.M.