Hello Friends! As you all know I have been in Cali Colombia with an ice show for the last few weeks and there have been some real adventures!
I arrived here on June 22nd. For once my flights were more or less uneventful. I mean none of my flights were delayed more than a few minutes, all of my luggage made it to Cali unmolested, and I only had a little bit of trouble getting through customs and immigration. Thank god I had an invitation letter from the Colombian Ministry of Culture (or something to that effect).
The following day the fun began at the venue. What we thought was going to be a nice leisurely day of landing shipping containers, generators, and chillers turned into a marathon. I mean we had this wonderful drawing of how everything was going to land and… not a single thing fit like the drawing indicated. So we first spent a few hours in the Colombian sun doing bar “room drawings” on scraps of paper trying to figure out how to fit it all. Once we figured that out it should be simple, right? Nope… you see for each of the 10 items there was a process. First the truck would have to get into place. Once the truck was in place the crane would have to set up. Then the crane would lift the item, the truck would wiggle its way out and then the container would be landed. Then the crane would have to completely break down and the process would start over about 50 feet away… it took a while.
The next day was a leisurely day of doing office work poolside while the ice team installed the ice floor.
And yes there was a local cocktail when the work was done.
The following two and a half days were spent loading our show in. This would have been complicated enough due to logistics of transporting anything in Colombia. Add in the fact that we had to ground support instead of rigging everything, the language barrier between our local labor and ourselves, and some power issues… but this is Colombia and everything has to be more interesting than planned. The biggest issue was power. The generators kept magically reversing phase on us. This screws with our motors and more importantly the chillers for the floor. You see the ambient temperature inside the arena is close to 90 degrees and in order to make ice we pump a glycol water mix through the floor panels under the ice at about 10 degrees. If the temp of the fluid in rises or stops being pumped… the floor turns into ice cold slip’n’slide with about a half inch of water on top of a few inches of ice… it makes things more interesting to say the least. Once the issues are resolved with the chillers and the ice starts to refreeze the crates and hampers that transport all of our stuff gets frozen in place. I am proud to announce that I did not end up on my ass a single time and nothing got so stuck in the ice that we couldn’t manually break it loose.
At the end of each day the entire crew would go back to the hotel and hit the bar. No one was drinking heavily each night, but we did manage to drink them out of several liquors.
Once load in was complete the skaters joined us in Cali for rehearsals. The rehearsal days were fairly easy days on my end. The biggest highlight was the Barbecue. Apparently the ice shows have a strong tradition of having barbecues all over the world. I mean we travel the above monster in our shipping containers. At any rate, the way it works is simple. Everyone chips in and we send someone grocery shopping during the day and after work there are locally sourced meats, veggies, and beverages. We also use some spare speakers to get some tunes going and it’s quite the party!
Last Monday we had a day off. In partnership with our security team we arranged for a bus to take us sightseeing. It was awesome! A member of the security team is actually from here, so he served as our tour guide for the day. We started by going to a large statue of Jesus on top of the mountain.
As we were driving down the mountain we got the bus to make an unscheduled stop so we could pose with these faces that were carved out of the rocks.
The next stop was the “cat park” which is a beautiful park along a beautiful (but horrible smelling) stream.
After stumbling around the park for a while we stopped by the oldest church in Cali. Unfortunately it was closed because it was a national holiday (don’t ask me what it was).
The next destination was supposed to be lunch by a river. However as we walked back to the bus our guide for the day stopped us and asked if we were thirsty. The next thing we know we are in an alley with the owner of this restaurant giving us a crate of free beer. As we were drinking the beer she brought us a plate of “Colombian bbq” an insisted that we try it. Next thing you know we are pushing together tables and instead of ordering we all got essentially a sampler plate the size of a basketball hoop to ourselves. The plate had sausages, chicken, beef, pork, salad, rice, and a few things I am forgetting. When it was all said and done she charged each of us 20,000 Colombian pesos (about 7 bucks USD).
After lunch we went back to the hotel with the intent to drink by the pool. Upon our arrival the bartender pointed to his nearly empty shelves and told us to “just bring your own from now on.” That’s right folks we had reached the point where the bartender was giving up and wanted us to bring our own booze to the bar. So we walked to the grocery store and have been buying mixers off him ever sense.
We had another day of rehearsals and then it was opening night here in Cali! Our performances almost all went smoothly… minus the day that one of our chillers went down… the show was more of synchronized swimming with knife boots than skating that day, but the audiences loved each and every performance we did in this beautiful city.
Then there was load-out. It was a rough one. Between the normal logistical issues that come with Colombia, the “alleged” stoned local labor, and the fact that our “translators” were high school English students who didn’t actually understand English… let me start with logistics. Trying to get a truck anywhere in Colombia is a feat. That being said our transportation partners did an excellent job of making sure we got the trucks as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Once we actually had a truck we then had to get our local labor, who had eyes so bloodshot that they glowed and smelled like a hotboxed 1991 Mazda 323 hatchback (allegedly), to recreate the above Tetris from hell. We had to do that 16 times… and our labor were definitely not stagehands to begin with. This was further complicated by the fact that our translators were all teenagers who were too busy gossiping with each other off in the corner to be bothered staying with the departments that they were assigned to. Not that they would have been much help anyways. I mean early in the evening I walked up to one and said, “follow me” he responded with, “sorry, no understand.” That was when I knew we were gonna have a night… We began load out at 8:30pm. We closed the last truck at 6am. That’s 9.5 hours… In the US this shown can load out in about 3 hours.
So Monday morning I returned to the hotel around 6:30am, just in time to enjoy one last amazing breakfast at that hotel. I then showered, packed, and headed to the next stop on my adventures, Medellin Colombia. Where the ice team is already playing games with the chillers…
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