It’s 2074 according to the Nepali calendar. Bring all the tools you can and leave the rest at home. Your ego, expectations, work style, and everyday comforts won’t get you far in Pokhara, Nepal. Quickly immerse yourself into the culture and let your hands lead the way.
We built a 6,500 sq ft skatepark in 18 days. The numbers are debatable but I’ve heard there was anywhere from 70-90 people, from 16-20 different countries. Regardless, we had quite the electric army ready for battle. Everyone with one goal, build the sickest skatepark we can with a $20,000 crowd funded budget. A non-profit organization, Make Life Skate Life pulled the strings and made it happen. A group of hard working, like minded people made sure it happened.
Immediately drop the ways that you are used to doing things and adapt to the resources locally available and the other ways and techniques that people do things. Wood milled to order, still green off the tree. A random mix of tools brought across seas by volunteers. A crooked screed board. We had what we needed.
With no traffic lights, stop signs, and cattle stayen about the streets, Nepal is a place of complete organized chaos. Our job site was nothing less than that. Similar to the impulsiveness of the the roads, you could work as hard as you wanted to or smoke as much hash as you’d like, knowing that somebody was ready to tap in when you may be ready to tap out. For many of us this build was a “vacation” from the realities of strict work schedules we all abide by back home. Sure many of us worked ourselves to sickness, but for a cause worth fighting for. Imagine moving a 10 yard truck, 40,000 pounds of concrete with shovels. Multiply that by 50 or some trucks. The park weighs a lot, skatepark building isn’t easy. Moral and spirits were at an all time high, always.
This build really brought you back to the grass root essence of skatepark building. Nobody was following you up with a level, or checking your forms with a string line. The water just need to get to where it was going, and it did. After all we built a skatepark with next to nothing when compared to the arsenal of tools you’d find in any job box back home. Everyone brought intuition and knowledge which made up for whatever tools you were used to using. Make no mistake, we built an industry standard skatepark that many people could only wish to ever ride. A place that will be appreciated and internalized forever.
We built the skatepark in Nepal, but all of us ended up “going” to 16-20 different countries between the 70-90 people involved. It’s a reassuring feeling meeting such a cool and diverse group of people that are into the same exact shit that you are. Realizing that this movement is happening all over the world really puts things into perspective. Skateboarding has no boundaries, at all. Here we were building a skatepark at one of the highest points in the world with the Himalayas painted in the background.
Once the first loads of dirt were dropped, the work went so quick. People on opposite sides of the park and everywhere in between, stacking dirt and setting up pours like they had done this before. 4 days of setup and then the concrete storm rolled in. It poured concrete for 2 weeks straight. On any given day we would pour 3-4 pieces, while others did setup and made sure we had something to pour tomorrow. We had a good rhythm. No sooner, it was time for the flats. Blessed with a power trowel (also known as a helicopter), we poured 10 trucks of flat in one day. The park was complete over night.
The work was done and our impact quickly became obvious. The drop in clinics were non-stop. Watching a kid ride a skateboard for the first time wearing flip flops, with no notion between a “good” or a “bad” board is a feeling which is indescribable. Almost better than riding the thing yourself. Knowing that you’ve contributed to the rest of someones life is a precious thing. Maybe some people don’t think about skatepark building as deeply, but for all the people who paid their ways out there, slept in the dirt, or told their loved ones goodbye for a months time. I’m sure we could all agree that skateparks save lives.
A big thank you and shoutout to Jon, Sam, and Kim who socially organized a group of derelicts (at least for the time being) and made this all possible. Pulling the strings and assuring everybody has a place to sleep is actually some of the hardest work when it comes to building a skatepark. The rest is going and will continue to happen for eternity. Check out makelifeskatelife.org for more info and how to get involved on the next go around. Dhanyavad Nepal. Annapurna Skatepark 2017.