A Tourist in my own Home

Madera In the Streets Of Santo Domingo...

22 Apr 2019

Madera Bmx In The Streets Of Santo Domingo Alan Malecon Table

Story by Mike Hinkens | Madera

Living somewhere is a lot different than visiting somewhere.

You would think that after living in three different countries in the last ten years--aside from my home in the United States--that I would have known that well by now. But, even after all this time, it’s hard to reconcile the two. Maybe it’s because I only live in places for a year or two and I’m coming and going repeatedly. Or maybe it’s because I’m constantly hosting friends and family from back home and doing the sightseeing thing with them in between hanging out with my new local friends.

Whatever the case, I end up feeling like a tourist in my own home. A visitor to a city that I traverse daily. A newcomer to a place I am familiar with.

These strange contradictions are even more apparent when I host a BMXer. At first, I unveil tons of photos of spots and deliver assessments and details. We make plans and set expectations. We get hyped and head out to ride and film. But then, at the spot, I realize I never noticed some issue or never experienced some situation before. There is a bump there. The security is tight. The ledge is too fragile to session. The neighborhood is sketchier than I thought...

Madera Bmx In The Streets Of Santo Domingo Hinkens Street Corn

“I thought you’ve done this before...I’m asked.

“You’ve logged a lot of spots and have some insights and tips, but how well do you really know them?”

I’ve only ridden them a few times and I didn’t realize how challenging the setup is. I’m still trying to feel them out so I can continue to ride here and not offend the locals.

“The locals seem cool when we hang out, but how often do you actually ride together?”

Only occasionally, and I’m not too sure about who rolls with who or how committed they are. I’m still working on that.

“What’s up with the people hustling in the streets?”

I don’t always know what the food is or what they’re selling. I’ll eventually try it all; I’m just waiting to see what’s safe.

“There are a bunch of different kinds of police here. What’s the deal?

I’m not sure what they care about or what their jurisdiction is. I’m trying to avoid them as much as possible, but been asking around about who to trust.

Each of my guests is usually amazed at how much I know about a city, but also surprised by how much I’ve missed.

And when those BMX guests come and we make a video during their short visit, we not only accentuate the contradictions laid out above, but also take a snapshot of the fusion of them all. We place ourselves and our bike riding somewhere between all of the questions and the answers. Our hastily applied marks fit in where and how they can, and the result is an interesting and unique interpretation of existing in a new place.

In the end, all I can do is continue observing, exploring, learning, and growing. And--it turns out--a BMX bike is a well-suited vehicle for those tasks, and the BMX families I continually meet along the way are great support systems, as well.

And then there is this edit. It may look like us doing our usual thing somewhere new, but in reality it’s just us trying to make sense of the unfamiliar with the tools we are most familiar with.

"Each of my guests is usually amazed at how much I know about a city, but also surprised by how much I’ve missed."

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