Cuba is one of the most interesting places in the world for a skate trip. The Caribbean island is also incredibly beautiful, but is stuck in a time warp due to the 50-year-old U.S. embargo. Michael Mackrodt and Walker Ryan recently visited Cuba with filmer/photographer Patrik Wallner and created some stunning content from Havana. Watch the video above to see some incredible skating and cinematography as Mackrodt and Ryan shred a place with features and atmosphere like nowhere else.
We caught up with Wallner to get the story behind the adventure.
How did this trip come about and why did you want to go to Cuba?
Fidel [Castro] is getting old. Walker Ryan, a professional skater from California, Michael Mackrodt, from Germany, and myself decided we need to explore Cuba now before the regime changes from a more communist background to a modern capitalistic state like the countries surrounding Cuba.
What did you think of the island? Was it similar or different to what you imagined?
I have been to North Korea before, so I imagined it to be somewhat similar. In some ways they are the same, with the constant propaganda in your face, but overall much [more] diverse culturally.
What did you like about filming in Cuba?
I loved how photogenic Cuba was. Everywhere you can see colors, and since commercials and banners are illegal, just seeing propaganda all over the city gives it a really interesting and different feel—like I said before, somewhat like North Korea or Saigon.
Describe the local skateboarding scene in Cuba.
It’s quite small, but there are some dedicated skaters amongst them who are hoping for a change so that obtaining skateboards within Cuba could get a bit easier, [which is difficult currently] because of the sanctions which restrict trade with the United States.
How is society changing there and what do you think skating will be like in the future in Cuba?
Since Raul [Castro, Fidel’s brother] is in office, he is very much modernizing Cuba. Overall he has done more in the last three years then Fidel in the last 50 years. Since the last two years, Cubans are allowed to buy or sell their cars and apartments and actually leave the island as well. I think skateboarding will flourish once it's easier to obtain the skateboards.
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