When I first began corresponding with Otra Cosa I had thoroughly read through the descriptions of the many different projects and I was pretty convinced of how I wanted to spend my time in Huanchaco. However, for a variety of reasons, the plan had to change and the office suggested I volunteer full-time at the skate ramp, la rampa. How could I work at a skate park? I’d never even been on a board before! After some reassurance that la rampa was more than just skating I finally agreed to my project.
After the infamous ride up to Cerrito de la virgen I tentatively stepped out the moto-taxi and was immediately bombarded with a flurry of action and demands to open la rampa as quick as possible. No introductions, no hellos, just move it. This came to be a daily occurrence which I loved. Sometimes kids would chase behind the moto taxi if they saw us coming from down the street or queue up to be the first to get the board with the red wheels when they heard the rattle of the engine.
My initial concerns were instantly washed away. The children greeted me as if they had known me for years and immediately wanted me to play with them. There were children of all ages skating and skilfully avoiding other kids and volunteers. Others playing with Lego, drawing or begging volunteers to turn the skipping rope for them. These children became my Huanchaco family. We saw each other almost every day, they taught me how to skate, they taught me Huanchaco Spanish and customs and we loved just hanging out together. I would bring different materials to the ramp to do crafts like using toilet paper tubes to make hot air balloons or binoculars. I would start on the Monday and then word would have spread by Tuesday with kids coming in to request to make ‘that thing their primo made’. We’ll never forget the day we brought loom bands, la rampa transformed into a sort of factory of masses of children twisting and turning plastic bands in concentrated silence. As the week went on more and more hopeful children turned up requesting ‘las ligas’.
Sometimes we would just watch the skaters and applaud as they tried new tricks and laughed with them if they messed up or ran to the rescue with ‘una curita’ if they were to fall. At the ramp there is a painted wall that says “En la rampa no hay mundo, hay rampa” this is the best way to describe volunteering at the ramp. When you’re there nothing else matters, any worries are swept away with a simple cheerful smile as you pull up or in a game of ‘Zombies’ running around like crazy with the kids as if you were 10 years old again. Skating or not, la rampa has its own wee world and it’s what you make it.
Written by Clare Burns, Skate Ramp Coordinator