The Children Of La Fonda[wptouch target=”mobile”][/wptouch]
I’ve always regarded Mexico to be somewhat of a wild, lawless place. Horror stories of the cartels beheading people would always be contrasted by tumultuous tales of debauchery to the highest degree. Complete and unrestrained self indulgence foreshadowed by complete and utter ruin. A place where if you had enough “deniros”, you could pretty much live like a king. I had heard tales of bottomless tequila shots, rare and illegal animals for sale, knives, guns. A proverbial black market for the curious wayward traveler. A feast for the dark side of your soul. Alas, like most preconceptions, I found my adventure to Baja to be quite different. Still somewhat self indulgent, but to a much much different degree.
We had stopped at a Shell gas station just a few miles from the MexiCali boarder. The last bastion of American soil before entering a new and unknown domain. I had never been to Mexico, or anywhere south of the border for that matter, so admittedly I was a little excited. “Get your passports ready, just in case”, said Scott Skamnes, grand poobah of this expedition. You see, while most stories you hear about Baja revolve around some kind of alcoholic beverage ingested one too many times, ours had a different spin to it. Now while I am no role model, nor have I ever claimed to be, our mission was to be exactly that. Journey to Baja, then hand deliver skateboards and toys to orphan children. It sounds like a desperate cry for karma points, but in all honesty, it was to be one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had the pleasure to have participated in.
Up until recently, I’ve always skateboarded for me. It’s always been about my experience, my enjoyment. Something so dear to me, so freeing, that I couldn’t afford to not be selfish about it. It was like I had discovered some big reservoir of infinite inspiration and creativity. Completely unscripted raw self expression. To me, it has been a priceless discovery that has brought me untold amounts of joy and self fulfillment. Something along the same lines as painting an incredible picture, or crafting a grandiose sculpture. Like some kind of spiritual awakening or discovery of an ancient artifact. All the more reason for me to keep it to myself. However, for the first time I was prompted to think about it differently, given a chance to apply my abilities and my resources to the betterment of someone else. Oddly enough, it had felt like something of a farfetched concept to me. I mean, sure, you hook up your friends, you give out product when you can. But this was different. This had been an experience about providing a child with something incredible. Sharing that limitless pool of self fulfillment with someone who has had no previous drive. No one on one attention that could spark the flame of ambition within. After this trip, I am certain that there is no better gift than one that can inspire such a change, inspire such a feeling within a child. A smile or a moment of joy can be such a simple gesture that can lead someone to go on to accomplish such marvelous incredible things.
Our trip to Baja had been built around the physical experience of skateboarding, but our mission had been about something far greater. Skateboarding had been the vessel by which we could courier a degree of satisfaction to these kids. Give them something to be excited about, a way to communicate a fractional degree of joy. It had only been a two day experience, and by the time it was over, I had been transformed into a different person. A more conscious individual, mindful. Stoked to continue to skateboard for myself, but now also stoked to share the ride. Mexico is an incredibly interesting place. Yes, on the surface, you’re presented with all of the countless instances of decadence. Over-saturation corruption, lawlessness. But dig just below the surface, and you’re presented with a place mystifyingly wonderful. An adventurous domain of survival and exploration. Go to Mexico looking for trouble, and you’ll find it. But go to Mexico looking for culture, adventure, and enrichment of the soul, and you’re sure to experience something of a much more magnificent nature.[sam id=”8″ codes=”true”]
In the forty-eight hours we spent in Mexico we surfed, swam, skated, flew, played, inspired, gave, received, laughed, yelled, smiled, frowned, ate, and drank, and all in time to make it back to the Agenda trade show that next weekend. If this trip has taught me anything, it has been to never fear what you don’t know. Live life with an open mind, and never be hesitant to go the extra mile to inspire someone to something new.
A enormous thanks to Scott Skamnes, Wesley Stewart, the Orphanages of La Fonda, and all the people involved with Urban Surf 4 Kids. To find out more about their organization and how you yourself can get involved, please visit the highlighted link.
Thanks for reading,now go find out how your skateboarding can help others.