¡Viva comunidad de skate Todos!

Posted: April 13, 2023 in inspiration, photography, skateboarding, travel

Todos Santos has something new brewing – a blossoming skateboard scene! In reality, it has been ramping up behind the scenes over the last decade thanks to a handful of people whose love for skating and surfing has brought together a community. They both have that special way of mobilizing people from all ages and backgrounds for shared fun, high fives & big smiles.

At the heart of this local movement is La Katrina Surf + Supply, opened by Aaron Balducci in 2012 as the first combined Surf & Skate shop in town. Originally from Connecticut, Aaron has called Todos Santos home since 2006 and saw an unmet need in the area. Local rippers Carlos Maidel, Alejandro Gonzalez and brothers, Jose & Sami Arce were among the first young guns to frequent the shop, stoked to have access to the international skate culture via the latest gear & magazines. Their skate skills have since evolved while they make up the de facto team representing La Katrina locally and beyond.  

In 2014 Aaron made his next move – pioneering and funding a secret skate bowl on a desert hill overlooking the sea for ultimate sunset skate sessions…dreamy! “Bowl Secreto” (aka Scorpion Bowl – you can guess the reasons why) was built by San Jose del Cabo based Rampa Skate (@rampa.skateparks), with inspiration stemming from classic 1970’s backyard pool designs. The beauty of it being a random bowl in the desert open to anyone who might chance upon it. Much akin to a legendary pool hidden in the CA desert, built in the 70’s for a nudist colony, but now an iconic spot for pool skaters.

Three years later, the time had come to make real moves when Aaron and friend, Jason Jacobs, were able to secure land from the town leaders to construct a community skatepark. Through their own funding and the design & labor help of Ricardo Arteaga and Erik Durazo, they were able to get a concrete mini halfpipe (and separately a small street section) built in the town center, currently located at Parque Los Pinos. The collaborative effort was a hit and extended to local kids excited to help by shoveling dirt in wheelbarrows for their new playground.

More recently, a necessary relocation of La Katrina from Centro Todos Santos due to a leasing change turned into a blessing after Aaron found a large warehouse space he could customize. And a surprise icing on the cake…a backyard area that was able to be transformed into the shop’s own personal DIY skate spot.

Enter Sam Duncan, a local skater, surfer and media enthusiast who Aaron credits as being the impetus for collaboration on the latest fun zone. What went from casual sparking of ideas with James Broderick (assisted Washington St. park build in San Diego), to teaming up with Aaron, to reaching out to one more person who reached out to another. “Sam called Bert, Bert called Cole, Cole called Richie”, all of them respectively seasoned concrete & skatepark builders with ties to the esteemed Evergreen Skateparks who have built over 20 parks in three countries. From there everything flowed organically in record speed and within a month the crew had cranked out the project: cutting forms, laying rebar and troweling out smooth crete lines and a pump bump. They were masters at constructing on demand DIY concrete tools in minutes (innovation!) and worked so fluidly together they often did not need words, one picking up a piece of wood and the other appearing out of nowhere with a screw and drill. It was quite magical to watch them work.

Aside from igniting the mini park idea, Sam works on various media & filming projects with local Baja Sur skaters. He recently created Los Libres De La Fuente (@loslibresdelafuente) as a platform to help represent Baja Sur skaters and shops, hoping to give exposure and aspiration to local kids. Sam’s secondary intention with the instagram page is to create an educational digital space to promote a balanced approach to healthy living. When asked how Sam feels about the completion of an idea he helped generate, “The more parks, the more kids can skate! That’s the goal.”

“This is a skatepark where everyone can feel included at all levels. If there are no waves, bring a picnic and drinks and get to know others. I see big potential! Props to La Katrina with all my heart.” – Elisa Leschek, local female skater.

Opening day festivities for the La Katrina DIY kicked off Saturday, January 29, 2023 with a large crowd ; young to old, beginners to pros, spectators & neighborhood locals. Beginners learned to balance & roll on flat ground with the help of others, intermediates learned turns and advanced riders whipped around the bowl demonstrating wall rides, airs and inverts. Add in bacon wrapped dogs, jamaica and music and everyone stayed to enjoy the show & setting sun.

The key themes emerging from all these developments are community, innovation and thinking outside the box, essentially the epitome of skateboarding. With the three builds Aaron has created, combined with a few private constructs and the Pescadero park nearby, Todos Santos is embracing this thriving new faction.

“Building the park is a part of how I see the shop helping the community and I want to be a part of that movement.” – Danny Lopez Amador, La Katrina employee.

La Katrina Surf + Supply is open 10-6 everyday and offers the loaning of shop boards, helmets and pads on-site. +52-612-135-5846 // @lakatrinabcs

Special thanks to the crew and assistants: Bert Spurr, Richie Conklin, Cole Karow, Mike Colacino, Danny Amador, Simon Isaksson, Charlie,Ted, Papa Brewer and all others who lent a hand in the build and opening.  CHINGON!

** Article published in English & Spanish in the Spring 2023 edition of Baja’s Journal del Pacifico magazine with words & photos by Autumn Rose

Crew by Sam Duncan

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