On the way to God's country. Where is it not? It is all. Viviendo El Sueno! Though I will state out that I am and Atheist but do believe in the glory and rarity of humanities presence on this planet within the universe. Living the dream. So again, on the way to forbidden lands to rendezvous with mi amigos.
We met in Panama. I was the last to show running up to the gate to board for Habana. My travel partner never showed so I had to deal on my own up to this point. I really didn't even know who was going. I was so happy to see the posse as I ran to the gate in hopes not to miss the flight. Here we are in Habana airport after customs having a cerveza. Mike Anderson, Rob Meronek, Jenna and Barak.
We got to the hotel at 2:AM. Checked in (took forever) and met at the all night bar for beers and sighs of relief that we all made it. Kinda freaking that we were here. When flying in lights on the ground were few and sparse unlike flying into most cities. Not really a clue on what to expect. My first look out my first morning. North view. Gulf of Mexico.
Rooms were nice. Hotel does not represent Cuba in general. We had the luxury of returning here each night to clean up and relax to all girl band in the bar (almost every night!) while drinking Havana Especials. Cuban peops don't have this opportunity.
Wide view out my window. Looking east towards what is way off, Old Habana. This hotel was located in what was upper class area. The homes surrounding were private until the revolution. Then these same homes were taken and doled out to different business entities and embassies.
Ripper, Ron Deily from Zoo York. He said we met once in San Diego at a Red Bull video premiere and that I was wasted and put him in a head lock. I don't know Ron. Sure you weren't the wasted one and Nieratko was getting chummy on you?
Chris and Kris Nieratko from NJ Skateshop and Zered Basset, Pro for Zoo York, and Jenna his chica get ready for big day with Cubatas.
Cheese sandwich and pom frites will become a close friend to me on this trip. My first meal. Queso, queso, queso!
The crew had to have their complete decks shrink wrapped as carry ons for security purposes?!? MC Wrapper Rob unwraps for the days excursion.
Occidental Miramar. Was good for a group our size doing what we needed to do but I hear the ideal is renting locals apartments. My first roll on board on the forbidden land was here at the hotel. We had a mini sesh right out front and the door guys were like cool, whatever.
Eighteen qty in one small van. Schedule was to go hit skate spots hard and fast in hopes to get enough quality pics for a magazine article. I went on any and all available excursions.
Just some random street and it's gushing style and romanticism. Our first stop was only to pick up Che, who is a leader for the skateboarding movement here (appropriately nick named). He and Tomas are our hosts for the week to show us around. I immediately started clicking away. Architecture, automobiles and people. Yes the old American car rumor is true. The other is the Russian Lada.
I'm just getting started here. Architecture.
Girl pro, Rick McCrank. Green on green. First time hanging out with.
Quim Cardona, Organika pro. He introduced himself as Waquiem so I didn't catch that it was Quim until a day later. I have never met him though I knew of him of course. Stoked to hang out with him too.
Felipe Agudelo, Tum Yeto's distributor for the past 12 years. And I of course was all hello, my name is Tod have we ever met. What a dick! Sorry for being one. I have met Felipe many times before.
I took many pics of buildings and scenery here. Be forewarned.
Nieratko, Che, Che's girl (name?), and Felipe. Che also runs a tattoo shop out of his small apartment.
Zered and Quim and Che Guervera Hotel.
Real Teamrider, Mike Anderson and SPoT posse, Barak, Ryan and Rob. Boards for Bros. What is it? It is a program created by SPoT crew to donate skateboards to kids and communities in need. There are no skate shops in Cuba. Slim chance that there can be one at all under this regime.
Author, Senior Swank and effigy of Che.
Plaza de la Revolucion skatepark. Mega drop and semi sketchy metal ramps. This is it. The only actual skatepark here in Habana.
Quim takes the first mega drop. We went here first to kinda just have a warm up and see it. There was a handful of locals there. They were siked. Wait till you see the demo pics.
That building in the background is the current Capitol building. We skated by it. Supposedly Castro is living there now.
Graffiti here was next to none through out the city. Here at the skatepark I guess they let it slide.
Local ripper came close on these miller flips. Where the hell did get the idea to do those!?! Magazines and videos are next to none here. Not to mention skateboard gear at all. There are no shops. All businesses are owned by the government to a certain extent. As well as homes and vehicles.
Che is the older generation and the revolutionist for skateboarding here. Frontside boneless up and over.
Zered Basset sucks up this ollie from a mega launch for a clean deck clear. Most likely never been done here ever before. This was my first time seeing Zered skate in person. He pretty much killed every spot we hit.
Make do with what you have. This is Cuba.
Rick didn't make this one but he made ones similar later. He's got mad skills.
Scuba Steve, renamed Cuba Steve, on this trip. Sole Tech videographer on hand to document the trip. Aggressive inliner.
McCrank bones a frontside air over from a mega launch.
Revolucion es construir. The construction of revolution.
Accountant, programmer, website designer, photographer, videographer and what else....skateboarder. That's how it goes eh. DYI. Rob Meronek from Skatepark of Tampa.
Bryce Kanights from SkateDaily.net was there as primary photographer for the trip. Fat article to come out in The Skateboard Mag. It better be fat, you got that guys!
First real street spot. Ledge to drop over lime green bench. Mike Anderson works on a boardslide the length. That blue tented area is a refreshment and snack stand. Cervezas included.
Mas muy bonita chicas! Seriously every few feet and very fashion forward and sexy which I found surprising under the regime.
Foundation fan and local Cuba posse.
Viva Cuba Skateboarding!
See Mike Anderson in background on his way to a maker. I'm obviously in the cervaza corral.
SPoT essay Ryan Clemens pressing his colors and Rob with refresher.
Cuba by design.
Local hits the three stair.
Top of Presidente' Way. Leads down to the beach.
Riviera in Habana. Didn't know Tim Maze and crew were expanding into Cuba.
Fuck Chris Nieratko jamming down Presidente'.
El Swank jamming down Presidente'. Check out those dope kicks and my super cruiser with custom grip by Phil.
No commercial billboards here. Political billboards yes with green Russian Lada going on by.
Little set of stairs. Beautiful day. We never got hassled by the cops for skating.
I bailed that last skate spot to check out the coast. Mostly all rocky along Habana.
At the end of Presidente' is this memorial. Didn't get the back story.
Crazy scallop grandstand for this athletic field. There were people jogging around it and doing exercises. There were also people sitting in the seats drinking rum and smoking cigarettes.
Little water fountain thing that I skated up and down.
People waiting for the bus. They would stuff the buses beyond capacity.
Architecture a mere block from the ocean. Half million dollar condos somewhere else. I'll live here. Note the styling.
McCrank powers a FS grind in the pond.
Barak gets on there with a board slide. Barak was a chef that took over the menu at SPoT. He then took over the shop and turned it into the powerhouse it is today. Now shoe companies solicit his input on future seasons and fly him all over the place for shoes releases. Oh and by the way he skateboards.
Ron Deily BS bluntslides that shit.
Check out that kid. Mesh tank top with mustard slacks and matching belt. Straight disco. I'm looking for that same outfit to rock. Neiratko shoots.
MAnderson BS tail slides as crowd looks on.
At the seawall for drinks and sunset. Locals congregate here every evening to enjoy the view, the company and the booze. When in Rome, eh?
Quim and Mike at festivities. Some of the locals freeze their asses off in that swimming hole down there.
Swank pusher deck ruled it in Habana.
Beachside condos. I met this older woman on the street near here and she told me via Filipe that she lived here on some floor and that we should come by and have a drink. No not in that way. She was like a grandma and just was being nice. Or...Maybe not. Yikes!
Bryce, our host, Tomas Crowder and McCrank discuss regime change.
Nieratko basks in the glory of actually pulling off the first part of mission of actually getting people here.
Three skater kids from southren Cali...I mean Habana Cuba. I like this pic.
Stadium from East view.
Could be muliti million dollar beach front home. I'll live here.
And another. I'll live here too. I guess the government just doles out residences to people based on their jobs. Crazy.
Rick and the Black Flags. Rock on.
Black Flags?!? What's the story?
Fifty Black Flags with one white star each?
Supposedly that building with the LED words in the windows is USA controlled (don't get it?!?!) and they display disagreeable propaganda in the LEDs. Castro retaliated by creating this flag monument which represents Cubans killed by US CIA to block the view of LED messages.
Come on people move forward into the future! Partial posse at Black Flag gig.
Back at the Occidental everyone scrambled for some slow internet time at the beginning and end of days. Meronek is so consumed by the intranet he doesn't even notice the hot girl band serenading him. I noticed!
La Bodeguita Del Medio. Restaurant in Old Habana. Taxi from hotel. Hemingway got wasted on Mojito's here.
La B Del M full house.
Play by play. Here we are walking into the restaurant in order to sit down and eat food and get wasted on Mojitos.
See even on the place mat Hemingway looks wasted on Mojitos. No wonder he was such a prolific writer.
Squad in prep of being wasted on Mojitos. Ok I'm sorry I will stop.
Room with a view.
Fidal Meronek enjoys the bounties of his country.
All famous people pics that have come here and eaten forbidden food in a forbidden land. There's Woody Harelson, P Ditty, George Bush, Marilyn Monroe. Holy Castro!
This is Mike A showing Barak his puke on the floor of his hotel room floor from the night before and how much it looks like my plate of food.
And my plate of food. Well hell I didn't fall asleep wasted, puke without knowing it and then proceed to break dance in the morning in my own puke because I didn't know it was there, Mmmmiiiiikkkkkeee!
Picture of the side of Ryan Clements face. I think a good shot if I don't say so myself.
Our host and friend, Tomas, fills our ears with Pro Castro socialist propaganda. I'm a believer!
Once you get super wasted on Mojito people encourage you to climb up and write a witty little message on the wall (hoping you will fall and bust your ass so we can all laugh our asses off. Whoops used ass twice my bad.) I did both. I wrote "Tod wuz here!" But accidentally used a G instead of a T. Then I fell and busted my ass and then laughed my ass off. Then I had a Cuban cigar. I'm not drunk I swear.
Plaza in Old Habana. I'm sorry the horizon is crooked. I hate that. Damn assistant. Fired.
Lurking in the shadows was this large naked female statue. Weird in what I would think a conservative place. Weird that I found it in the complete dark.
Cuban Cabbie. He was totally discussing Cuba-US relations and Obama relevance to that. I didn't know what the fuck he was talking about. I don't understand or speak fluent Spanish. I suck. He was cool though.
He asked if was handsome in my pictures. I said uh, can I get out of the cab now....