Skating in Santa Marta: A Brief Report

Skateboarding is still an informal activity in the city of Santa Marta. However, it boasts a great amount of adherents who, in absence of proper spaces to perform their sport, have no choice but to take it to the streets and plazas.

The presence of skaters in various public and private spaces has generated some problems with inhabitants, pedestrians and administrators in places like shopping malls. Many of the latter state that skaters do a great deal of damage around these sites or block walking traffic.

“You know, we’re often seen as slackers who just loiter around the city, but in reality we’re just carrying out a sporting activity that has great merit and that involves skills, abilities and a lot of discipline. This stereotyping affects us obviously, but we want to demonstrate that skaters are usually removed from bad habits and negative activities”, said Manuel Carrillo, one of the many skaters in Santa Marta.

This young skater confesses that the lack of appropriate spaces and social rejection make it harder and harder to skate. However, he, along with his friends, make do with what they have. Some of them even say that the adrenaline rush related to not being discovered adds to the thrill of the sport.

“Of course we would like to have a fully-suited place at our disposal. Unfortunately, Santa Marta doesn’t seem to have appropriate grounds or facilities for us to skate. We’re not asking for much or for anything bad here, we’re just asking for a place to skate. And until that happens, we have no choice but to continue doing our thing in spite of protests or countermeasures. There are times when even our lives are at stake because of this, but what are we going to do? Keep on skating, of course”.

Perhaps one of the aspects that has gotten these kids an unfortunate bad reputation is the way they dress, which is nothing more than the representation of the urban art of a sub-culture from the streets. This visual and ideological identity has been built as an ongoing social process for many years in our country.

“We have several goals. The first one is to show people that there are alternatives for kids different than drugs and bad habits. There’s also the health aspect, you know, maintaining a healthy weight and all that, none of us is overweight, and it’s all the result of daily practice. We’re cool kids, we don’t do graffiti or drugs, we just skate for skating’s sake. The only goal of a true skater is to get on the board and have some fun. The main idea is to show the world that we have a healthy alternative to personal transport”, Manuel Carrillo stated.

For the time being, this group of skaters will continue going about the streets of Santa Marta, always looking for spaces that allow them to practice their beloved sport, while being on the lookout for any public sporting institution that might notice them and offer them a place where they can skate to their heart’s content.

My personal comment: If anything, this only goes to show you the incredible variety of cultural leanings that can be found in the port city of Santa Marta. While I can’t really comment from the perspective of a skater as I am not one myself, I can definitely offer a perspective from the point of view of a traveler. My two cents is that these type of cultural demonstrations can only benefit the city, bringing more foreign people to the hotels in Santa Marta and generally providing more revenue to a city that has long deserved way more attention than what little it has at the moment.  

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