2000+ Miles Skated To Flee From Gang Violence
Kelvin, Rene, Kevin, and Eliseo are all patinetos (skaters) who saw many of their other skater friends being grabbed by gangs and getting beat up really bad, to the point where they were almost killed.
In El Salvador where they skated from, some people view skateboarding as bad.
Skateboard was a way of protest to show that they were not scared of gangs.
But it has gotten really bad where the gangs in the area usually bother, kidnap, mug , and if you weren’t from that area, they will shoot you where you were standing.
The 4 patinetos decided enough was enough and decided to escape and head to L.A.
In March, Kelvin and the other patinetos (who asked that I not use their last names) left San Salvador in the dead of night, and skated three hundred and fifty miles through Guatemala to the border town of Tecún Umán. That was the easy part. It’s fifteen hundred miles across Mexico, much of it past growing ranks of Mexican immigration security agents, kidnappers and extortionists. And then there’s the business of actually crossing into the US — where armed Border Patrol, infrared cameras, and electric fences make it one of the world’s most militarized borders.
The patinetos have discovered an unlikely advantage, though: attention-grabbing ollies and kick flips can be a form of camouflage. Officials tend to have certain qualities in mind when looking for migrants: poor, haggard and lost. The skaters, with their devil-may-care swagger, often coast by authorities without prompting a second glance. “Skating has served us well crossing Mexico,” says Rene. “It’s a new way to migrate.”
A thousand miles into their journey, however, things began to unravel. The patinetos bickered over the little money they had, and the pace of their progress. Rene and Kelvin wanted to stick to skating and traveling on foot in remote areas. But Eliseo and Kevin were tired. They argued the time had come to board La Bestia.
In Mexico City, Eliseo and Kevin caught a train in the middle of the night to Querétaro, the next big city northward – Kelvin and Rene didn’t even know they had left until the next morning. Within hours, Eliseo and Kevin were apprehended by Mexican immigration officials and put on a plane back to El Salvador. Their skateboards were confiscated.
Rene and Kelvin continued on alone. Their families sent them a little money, which they occasionally used to buy bus tickets; this far north, they figured, immigration officials wouldn’t suspect that two punk kids in the back of a bus were undocumented. After two months on the road, Kelvin and Rene had traveled two thousand miles and made it to the US border.
You can check out the original and detailed article here.