So it`s been an amazing journey, both the Clash and us were celebrating birthdays. Technically my suitcase was born 5 years ago in Berlin (the logo ideas anyway) at the Clash. I remember sticking papers on the front of my case, taking my first steps nervously.
This year it all seemed very promising and special. We set out to help the African chaps we met beforehand last year with visa applications to be able to represent their country and travel abroad for the first time but had no idea it would be this complex, and having lost the clash tickets in the post not helped us. In fact without that the Moroccans did not succeed. I didn`t have to marry anyone for visa reasons, still riding solo, thanks to the live streaming all could watch what went down! However 1 lucky boy from Libya, Ali has got permission and even got sponsorship which meant probably the first time in Winterclash history there was a contestant from (north) Africa!
So due to this we made another ridiculous journey to Holland to show him around, catch up and have some fun. As always I experienced a number of embarrassing travel mishaps on my trip, from trying hard to take my suitcase through the security at the door with all the stuff it contained then loosing half of my possessions in the park to elbowing a flight attendant in the balls which by the way caused chaos and for a minute people believed we were all gonna die, when he started to scream his head off. Never mind, the best travel stories usually happen when something goes wrong. I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy tons of good luck, but there’s an equal amount of bad luck that also seems to follow me around. I didn`t even try booking a hotel, I knew it`d be fully booked upon arrival, also I was almost certain I could crash at someone`s place. And so it happened, a dutch friend of mine, Eli whom I met in Morocco while travelling, happened to live 10 min away from the park so we could get there on a bike. As far as I was concerned with great difficulty since it was made for a person 3 times taller than me, felt like it was riding me rather than the other way round. Eventually I ended up on Eli`s. Then on the floor. As I managed to backflipped off the back of his bike. Which is partly the reason why we never turned up at the after party. Maybe its better that way. Maybe not. Instead of a headache I woke up with a horrible pain in my arm in the morning, Eli`s fat cat decided to sleep on top of me and I could barely move once rescued.
Back to the beginning of the story: The libyan skater got accompanied by a media representative, interpreter and a cameraman who will spread the word in their country and will inspire more, giving hope for the next generation. The minister of youth and sports association also donated $$$ to make this trip come true, meaning their flights, hotels have been all paid. Hard to believe hah? He could even afford to purchase a brand new pair of skates at the park that finally fit him and he liked. (Not having a shop in their country left them with no option but to order online before.) Likewise the amazing Jojo did a great job helping these young fellas, without him it would not be possible. We really are a close family who lifts each other up and helps one another. It feels good to be part of it. To make it more official we have been given a commendation certificate by the Libyan Ministry of Y&S which is ever so cool! It`s a big step. This guy set foot on a foreign land and finally got to meet his idols for the first time.
A fan fulfills his dream. Classical fairy tale. Memorable, now or never moments. For him a dream come true, for me another great story packed in the suitcase that I carry with me for the rest of my life.
I guess it`s a pretty f*cking big deal. Seeing someone you admire face –to –face, who you only know via social media. I never got a rollerblade mag in my hand nor a dvd. Not that I`m not interested but I got my inspirations from somewhere else and chose to show support in a different way. I try not to live in the frenetic world of mobiles, tv and internet. Accordingly there are a lot of ppl I don’t know, you would expect someone who has been skating for 14 years to recognize rollerblading icons, I still fail sometimes. I`m normally good with faces I know, if I’ve seen and met you before 2-3 times, rarely forget a face (ok that`s been known to happen too or the opposite, I say hello to strangers thinking I know them) but I can never remember anybody’s names. They utterly escape me, I’m more a visual person. I never knew there was a name for this, facial blindness or busy lifestyle syndrome, you name it, but it`s the most frustrating and socially awkward thing ever. Drives me crazy. I’m not a complete jerk, I try to be nice, but I just forget. So if I see you again and act like I don’t know you, please come up to me and tell me your name. I know it causes offence. So I bluff these days, it is hit or miss. Or just go for this: Sorry I`m terribly drunk and no clue who am I talking to. I found it was pretty well received at the event.
I met this chap (…) from Usa, was telling me he`s doing a showcase with Julian Bah, didn`t really ring the bell so I nodded yeah the guy whose got big hair yeah?
I got to examine his face later for a minute while showing my mate around, he was promoting his very own pro skates with his friend I talked to before.
“Oh f*ck!” I thought. Please let a hole open up in the earth and swallow me. The inability to remember my own name added to the awkwardness when shaking hands so forgot how to introduce myself and just buggered off. Also my apologies to the chap with the ginger beard, space out on the name and Remy for not recognizing ur face either. It was so cool catching you again and messing around, laughed my ass off! Was lovely to see everybody as always! Smiles all around..
Sometimes especially when in a city like Holland it can be a real mission for many of us not to get drunk before the party..and lot of us failed. I`d barely find my own feet or see the other side of the room there was so much smoke, think I had to be scooped out of the bowl in the end. I wouldn`t be me without a bleeding knee.
Although the weekend soon came to an end the memories will last forever, that special time together is something that we could always remember. With the Schengen visas in their hands the libyans still on the road, exploring Europe, in France at the moment I think hitting up skateparks and doing tourist stuff.
Here are some pics to give you a visual of what we had witnessed that weekend.