If you haven't watched it yet, our Empire in Medellin video is now live on all Thrasher Mag's channels. We're stoked on the final result and wanted to share a little behind the scenes with you guys. Check the video below and scroll down to dive into a few days in Medellin with the Empire boys.
Words: Phil Lajeunesse
Photo: Dan Mathieu / Ryan Lebel
We left Montreal early in the morning on December 3rd 2019, not really knowing what to expect. Would there be spots to skate in Colombia? Is the Airbnb located in a safe area? Are we going to get mugged? Is the food legit? Only time would tell.
Somehow we managed to get first class tickets for our Montreal-Medellin flight. Seats were comfy and even if it was only about 8;30 AM at that point, the flight attendent was refilling our beer cups faster than we could drink them. Off to a good start I would say.
As soon as we landed in Colombia, we met up with Barbas, our guide for the next 2 weeks and a true OG in the skate scene over there. Barbas is the best, period. He's kind, calm, always listening and down for whatever. Just a great human being. He showed us a totally different Medellin than the one we see on Netflix. People are friendly, the food is awesome, the scenery is gorgeous and the locals were all very nice to us. Skateboarding definitely brought both of our crews together and it was the sickest thing to see in the streets.
Then we met Alfonso, who would be our driver for the next two weeks. With his carefree attitude and flawless driving, he became our friend very fast. He was picking us up at 11am and driving us around until the end of the day, for 14 days straight. The best thing is that I seriously never saw the man without a smile on his face. He even came to cheer us up on a few sessions. Alfonso's energy was contagious, and he was a crazy good driver.
We made it to the Airbnb safe! It was actually flawless. A clean two stories house in a safe neighbourhood, right next to the grocery store and the Frisby Fried Chicken joint. Can you tell Cody was stoked?!
We were lucky to have 2 massive balconies at the crib. "Coffee and chill" on the patio quickly became a ritual for everyone.
On to our first skate session in Colombia. Those who experienced skateboard trips with a bunch of people know how much effort goes into packing everyone's gear in the van. A true Tetris game.
The best thing about being a 17 dudes squad + local homies is that you always have someone to chill with on the sesh, no matter what you're doing.
Some stayed in the Van to check the action from a distance.
Some rode mopeds in duo.
Some worked on their tan...
Some worked at trying single tricks.
Others were going for lines.
In any case, we were celebrating the day's victories every night at Frisby Fried Chicken.
The dice games became a night classic. Easy to tell that at that exact moment, Fred was on a roll.
One night on the first week of the trip, Barbas booked a show at his friends bar featuring skateboard/music extraordinaire Alexis Lacroix. Good times.
Alexis was feeling the energy.
Scream along: OHHHH YEAHHH!
Another chill morning on the balcony. Where we going today?
First, let's get everyone back in the van.
The hills in Medellin are just insane and the crew took great advantage of it. Here's Alexis, evaluating the death probabilities before bombing down the gnar.
In the meantime, PIF Daddy paid a security guard a few thousands Colombian Pesos so he could skate a massive rail.
A few minutes later, PIF rolled away from a gnarly front nose (see edit) and hugged the security guard while we peeped the footy.
At some point, we decided to take a little tourist break and went to El Penol National Site. It was beautiful.
Only thing is we saw some bank spot on the way there and couldn't help but to cancel our tourist day to go back and take advantage of this beast.
Did we say the Chicken was great in Colombia?
Then we proceeded to hit more spots.
Got more single tricks.
More great photos in the bag.
You guys killed it, time to get back in the van and find the party!
At the end of the trip, Barbas organized a photo expo at his other friend's bar with the flicks Dan Mathieu and Ryan Lebel shot during the trip. Locals were stoked, we were stoked, everybody was juiced! Thanks Barbas for including us in your scene like that. It was awesome.
More photos from the master lensmen.
One last cliché for the road.
Thanks to Barbas, Alejo, Cabe and all the Colombia homies. Thanks to Alfonso and the Medellin people for being so nice. Thanks to Empire for sending us there and thanks to our skate team for being the ultimate squad on all levels.