I haven’t had a television in my apartment for a couple of years now, I brush up on current events on reliable internet sources here and there instead. When I was in Israel, my family and many of my friends reached out to me asking if I was safe, if I was paying attention to what was going on with Syria, did I get my mask to prepare for the bomb threat like all the Israeli locals were doing?
Well, the Israeli locals that I was spending time with laughed when I asked them if I needed to buy a mask. Sure, the tension is very real—it always is—but I visited Israel to ride my skateboard with a bunch of rad ladies and that is exactly what we did. I have since realized that everyone in the world would benefit from shutting off their T.V.’s and living their precious life as they should. The locals that were showing us the sweet spots of Israel are the dirty hippies of Dasilva Boards, and I call them that with much love. They build custom, 100% handmade beautiful skateboards of all shapes and sizes, do everything in their power to grow skateboarding in their country, and are all around awesome dudes. They were Longboard Girls Crew’s big brothers and tour guides through Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Sea of Galillee, the Desert of Negev, and the Dead Sea. They even gave digestible history lessons throughout the whole trip and showed us plenty of fun skateboarding everywhere we went. The Longboard Girls Crew organized this trip to film a documentary about female skaters called “Open“. We were fourteen girl skaters, four dirty hippies, three filmers, and two more on the production team. We were too busy enjoying each other’s company, the radical skateboarding, the sunny weather, the foreign culture, the delicious food, the unique landscapes, to even think about war. Until a few eighteen year old girls casually walk by with purses hanging on one shoulder and huge automatic rifles on the other.
This is the culture shock that I’m really into. It made me feel thankful to live in a country where I never needed to give years of my life to the military. It opened my eyes to all the ways my life in my country is different from other people’s lives in their country. But it also opened my eyes to all the ways that our lives are very similar. A lot of the people I connected with over there are very liberal; after they served their time in the military they didn’t invest further into war or religion, but rather into their own lives and happiness. They, too, are just trying to make ends meet so they can explore and skate the mountains and chase the waves. (Yes, there is surf in Israel.)
In Israel, our crew was a spectacle. We would go to a skate spot that Dasilva promised we’d get kicked out in a matter of minutes, and security guards would smile and bring us popsicles. Locals were super intrigued by our mob of lady skaters, asking us what we were doing and if we needed anything. Multiple times we were even given fresh baked goods just out of stoke and kindness. I think the Israeli people we encountered liked our crew, and we definitely enjoyed being there. Israel’s terrain offered everything we wanted to skate—steep city streets, technical downhill, street spots, fast pack runs, we even freestyled on rooftops of the Old City of Jerusalem. The skateboarding in those cities was a dream, and the whole atmosphere was so different from anything we were used to. I could feel the heavy juxtaposition of the freedom and rowdiness of skateboarding against the strict rules of the sacred places that we found ourself in. We respected the traditions, shutting our mouths and covering our shoulders and legs when we needed to. With compliance to the customs, we skated the hell out of the Holy Land.
We had seen the division between the Israelis and the Arabs in Israel all through our trip, everywhere we went in the country. Israelis speak Hebrew, Arabs speak Arabic, Israeli Jews have their temples, Arabs have their mosques, Israelis have their way, Arabs have theirs. There is a big divide and it is visible almost everywhere. One of the last days of the trip, our vans rolled up to a community center with about thirty kids waiting patiently for us girls to arrive. From what I understood, these children didn’t live in the best area, but this community center kept them out of trouble and having fun. One of their activities is skateboarding, which they were all power-stoked about, sharing boards and using some of our gear. Not to mention, this group of kids was made up of both Israeli children and Arab children. They skated, laughed, and played with no divisions, not even the thought of it. How simple and beautiful, skateboarding guarantees smiles and brings people together.
Getting to know the Dasilva crew and making new friends in this country has completely opened my mind. War and religion don’t appeal to me, and they were all I could gather about Israel before I went there and saw the country with my own eyes. Although those topics are prominent there, they certainly are not what the people we hung out with were are all about. The geography of Israel offers jaw-dropping landscapes to get lost in, places so old you can’t begin to wrap your head around it, all night parties, excellent skateboarding, and so many kind, genuine people that are chasing after the very same pipe dream as you and I. So, I encourage you to shut off your TV, stay skating, travel when you can, learn about different places, meet new people, and keep your mind and eyes open. The world we live in today is fascinating, find out for yourself.