Escape From Europe
Words by Kane Horspool Photos by Adam Harris
We’d like you to meet Kiama legend Adam Harris. Sure, some of you have met him before but I’m sure there is a few who haven’t. In my opinion Adam is one of the best skateboarding filmers and editors this region has ever seen. In fact, I don’t think there is anyone better, he definitely has his peers on his par but there is no greater. With a couple of full lengths and a plethora of clips and filming credits to his name, he’s had a handful of pieces featured on the Slam Magazine website and even got a clip posted by the biblical Thrasher.
To be a great filmer you not only need a steady hand, patience, an eye for composition and a buttload of experience you need to be likeable. Because if no one can stand ya they aint gonna skate for ya. And Adam is a very well-liked individual, he can traverse scenes and genres with ease. He is the kinda guy who can travel to the far distant corners of the globe and always find a couch to crash on.
Adam Harris is also a well-worn traveller. There is not much that fazes him. He can live out of Walmart carparks for weeks on end while traversing the Rocky Mountains in the USA. He can survive for months trekking through South America in a small van with three other dudes, surf boards, snow boards and blistering cold conditions. He’s sheltered from storms in Machu Picchu, weathered 24hr bus rides through foreign alps and survived a village of inbred villagers in the American heartland. But the brutal surge of the Corona virus seemed to have landed a dent in this voyager’s armour.
Adam was in Austria with his girlfriend when the pandemic rushed into neighbouring Italy. It didn’t take long before they had to make a dash to get out before everything closed down around them. “People in Kiama have no idea how bad it actually is because you’re not seeing it, whereas over there your seeing everything just shut down fully. Its like a tidal wave just coming through”.
A lucky text from a friend informed them of the impending border closure. With bags hastily packed and tickets acquired they scrambled. “We got across the border with an hour to spare”. Once they crossed the border into Germany, they realised how close they had come. “They shut all the trains, they shut everything”.
Just like a scene from a tragic Mat Dillon romantic comedy they rushed through the airport unsure if they would even be able to travel together. “My girlfriend is from New Zealand; she wasn’t even sure she was going to be let into Australia”. Tensions were heightened when “the people in the line in front of us weren’t allowed to get on the flight”. But luck was on their side. Maybe someone didn’t know the difference between NZ and Oz. Having almost identical national flags can be a curse for New Zealanders but occasionally it’s a blessing.
Now transit and travel through international airports can be testing at the best of times, but add into that equation the inevitable doom of a global pandemic and I’m sure you would really start feeling like herded cattle. Our intrepid travellers managed to get a comfortable relatively empty flight from Munich, Germany to Qatar with a relatively comfortable two-hour layover. As comfortable as it can be wearing a face mask the whole time. But the next leg of the journey was not so easy “that was like a fourteen-hour flight and it was full… That was the most stressful part, was being on that flight”.
I’m always entertained watching people stand up in the aisle when a flight touches down, desperate to get off first. As if we aren’t all then going to line up and wait to get our bags. But there was nothing comedic about the situation they faced when they touched down. “When we arrived in Sydney we weren’t allowed to get off, we had to stay seated. Then there was paramedics that came in because there was a kid that was sick on the flight. We were all worried that he had Corona virus. And I would hate to be those people, and everybody is staring at them. And he probably didn’t even have it”. The kid probably just had the sniffles.
Then after all the debacles and high-altitude drama you would expect to go through some really strict medical induced gauntlet from the Border Force storm troopers at customs but Adam was quite surprised by the laxed screening. “I thought they were gonna be checking temperatures and all that but it was pretty chill”. The only thing stopping a potential incubator walking out into the daylight of society was some bland baseless questions. “You could just lie and walk through if you wanted to”. It’s no wonder that around this time a certain ruby royalty discharged her germ ridden suitcases (and passengers) all over our docks.
Adam and his girlfriend were lucky they got back into the country when they did. If they had come in a couple of weeks later, they would have been incarcerated into a 4-star hotel for a two-week isolation. But lucky for them they were able to complete their isolation a few streets from the beach in sunny Kiama Downs. After a couple of boring weeks entertaining themselves with puzzles, cards and an obscure game called rummy cub they survived isolation. Although they may have bent the rules slightly, its pretty hard when you can almost see the beach from your house. “yeah I snuck out for a wave”.
I ended up talking to Adam for about an hour about all things travelling under the corona cloud. He told me stories of his friend’s dramas getting stuck behind borders in Europe and getting locked up in dodgy hotels in South America. He also told stories of friends getting infected, a bartender passing the virus around like cheap drinks and what it was like for people forced into quarantine with constant police checks. Adam also regaled me with stories from his many years spent travelling abroad chasing waves, snow and skateparks. You can hear the entire conversation in the podcast linked to this article. I’m sure this will just be the first of many recorded conversations we have together as Adam has endless stories of bouncing borders and jumping oceans.
Listen to their chat here