Surfing and skating are two sports that go hand in hand but each requires a key element: waves and a skate park. For enthusiasts of the latter, Puerto Escondido comes up short.
Skate was initially started as a “subset” of surf in the 1950s. During times when there were no waves, surfers needed an outlet. From shortened surfboards with wheels attached, the sport was born.
It was sometimes even referred to as “surfing the sidewalk.” Since then it has greatly evolved and today there are many who practice one sport and not the other.
World-renowned for its waves, Puerto attracts surfers from all over the world. Alex Granda was one of those but when he arrived here he couldn’t believe there wasn’t a skate park.
And so a dream was born: to build the largest public skate park in Oaxaca. Granda began approaching others about the idea and found enough support that Parque Guajes was officially founded as a non-profit organization in 2021. To this day, with the exception of the construction workers, the entire team is made up of dedicated volunteers.
Jerónimo Rosales, the communication coordinator for Parque Guajes, explained why the project has attracted strong support. “I think it has a lot to do with the ability to effectively communicate the project. I think that’s the biggest difference between Parque Guajes and other projects. Parque Guajes has effective communication skills … It’s a brand. We have shirts, stickers. We use the same logo and colors all the time. And that’s stayed consistent throughout the whole project. It has an identity.”
And when compared to many other passion projects, Parque Guajes has truly had the support of the community, particularly the municipality of Santa María Colotepec. The first large donation they received was the land in La Punta Zicatela on which to build the park. Another large donation from the municipality was 250,000 pesos in cash.
Rosales isn’t too surprised by the local government’s interest in supporting a space like this, noting, “There aren’t public spaces in Puerto to just go and hang out without consuming. The municipality sees the importance of the space … We want people who don’t skate to come too. It’s a place where you can go to talk to a friend, walk your dog, exercise …It’s good for the well-being of the community.”
Parque Guajes’ slogan, “A skate park by everyone and for everyone,” has been continuously put into action. Without the community coming together, the project wouldn’t have been possible.
Various businesses and individuals have donated funds. Volunteers have played a huge role in preparing the land for construction. There were three tequios in which members of the community volunteered a day to work on the project. Tequio is an indigenous word that means communal work. On these days volunteers contributed in the best way they could, whether with physical labor or food contributions.
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Rosales observes, “There’s something very spiritual in waking up and spending your whole day voluntarily working toward something for the community.” And that sense of community and spirituality is likely what’s attracting so many people to the project.
It’s clear that it’s far more than a skatepark. It’s about bettering a community by bringing it together in a healthy way. And that feeling is contagious. Essentially, it feels good to give back to the place where you live.
Two years after the idea was born, Parque Guajes started construction this past week. By the beginning of July, part of the park will be functional. However, there’s still much more to do.
The whole project is expected to cost 8 million pesos, about US $470,000. While there’s no projected date for completion of the entire park, there’s no doubt in the minds of the committee and the participating community that it will happen.
The first part of the skate park, which is currently under construction, will use the over 500,000 pesos raised with a 30-day Kickstarter campaign. That amount was the most the project had raised in such a short period of time. Meanwhile, organizers say the park is completely transparent with how its funds are being used, keeping the public informed via Instagram.
The skate park will be completed in phases but will open once construction is finished on the first section. Additional phases will be built as funds are raised.
Parque Guajes aims to be an inclusive community. And with such a broad base of supporters, it’s clear that anyone who wants to contribute to the community is welcome. In fact, many volunteers and donors don’t actually skate. But they’re just as dedicated to the project as those who do.
So what exactly has struck a chord with so many people when it comes to Parque Guajes?
It probably has something to do with another phrase that the committee has attached to the project: Nothing is impossible.
And from the beginning that’s been something of a mantra for the team. There’s never been a question as to whether the park would be built but simply a matter of when, thanks to the dedication of the passionate committee that’s leading the project.
- Current committee members are founder Alex Granda, president Pablo Calderón, general coordinator Gabriel Reyes, treasurer Mylene Gagnon, skate relations coordinator Theo Bizzari, architects Alfonso Sodi and Daniela Fábregas, local relations coordinator Wallaz Arte, and communication coordinator Jerónimo Rosales. Past committee members are Misael Giltorres, Alejandro Jeck and Citlalli Calleja. You can follow the project on Instagram (@parqueguajes). Keep an eye out for the opening of the first section of the skatepark in the coming weeks.
El Sol de Puerto