We woke up brutally early to catch a flight from Pereira to Cartagena with a stop in Bogota. Renzo, the Supervising Producer, was really, really sick all night. Food poisoning. Definitely not good.
Once at the Pereira airport, complete with an hour long delay, Renzo was not getting any better. Poor guy was in hell. We arrive at the Bogota airport to catch our connection to Cartagena and I got something to eat but Renzo could hold nothing down.
At Bogota airport we met up with Moses, our cameraman / editor who joined us for the remainder of the trip. Moe is a talented and experienced guy so luckily, Moe and I could at least carry on without Renzo. There is never a good time to be sick when traveling but at least we have a back up with Moses.
In Cartagena the weather was absolutely horrible on arrival. It had been raining hard for days and the streets were completely flooded. Our hotel situation was not nailed down either but Renzo’s buddy, Luis Towers, a local Champeta musician was on the case and nailed down the Villa Colonial in Getsmani just outside the old city. It was cool.
Since Renzo was exhausted after being up all night and needed some sleep, Moses, Luis Torres and I headed out to shoot some b-roll. It started raining again so we stop to have a light lunch, but we really don’t get much video shot. We instead go on a quest to buy ponchos for everyone as it looked like we’re going to need them.
Later that night the rain lifted for a bit and Moses and I took advantage to get some night shots of the old city. I sure hope this rain goes away tomorrow. Cartagena is not as much fun when it’s raining, but it still beats snow any day of the week!
We woke up early to head to the town of Guatape, home of Penol, the big rock, about 1½ hours outside of Medellin.
The weather was gorgeous as we headed out and were joined by our friend and guide Jonier, a longtime resident of Medellin.
In the morning we stopped off in Guatape and roamed around the town square, taking some b-roll (footage) and talking to the locals.
We took a ride in one of the three wheeled motors down to the lake waterfront where we ended up taking a canopy ride over the lake.
This was my first canopy ride and I wasn’t sure what to expect. After riding to the top with a guide who spoke no English, I rode down on my own at a very good clip. The water zoomed by underneath as the camera crew zoomed by to my right. I wasn’t really paying attention as I headed into home base at an even faster rate of speed, and to my shock, I did not slow down at all.
I wonder if this had something to do with what the guide was telling me at the top…?
I’ve really got to get out of that habit of saying “si” every time someone speaks Spanish and I can’t understand.
Were they telling me how to brake? Oh hell! Luckily there was a padded landing that I hit, albeit pretty violently. Thankfully it gives some time when I slam into it and a couple of workers come over to help me out of the harness. I’m ok but a little dazed by the hard landing.
When it was time for Renzo, the Supervising Producer, to take his turn I strongly urged him not to take the new AND expensive camera with him. MY new and expensive camera that I hadn’t even had a chance to shoot with yet since he’d commandeered it for use in the show.
He ignored my plea and headed up the canopy peak. I thought I was going to at least enjoy watching him slam into the mat and present him with a nice little bill for the camera when he breaks it.
To my shock he glides slowly down at a very conservative rate of speed and lands effortlessly on the landing pad without so much as coming close to the crash pad. What gives?
Turns out he had asked the operator to let him down slowly so he could take some b-roll footage with the camera. It sure pays to speak fluent Spanish sometimes. While I was disappointed that Renzo didn’t share my pain, I was relieved the camera would be operational for a while longer and maybe I’d even get a chance to use it soon.
After the canopy ride we broke for lunch at a beautiful outside hilltop restaurant that served typical Colombian food. The views were amazing but about half way through lunch it began to rain like Armageddon and we had to abandon the rest of the planned agenda and head back to Medellin, unfortunately before we even had a chance to climb the famous Penol rock.
We rested up and then shot a scene with my buddy Raul and I at one of his friend’s bar/restaurants in Parque Lleras. Raul is a videographer as well and is a Colombian-American from Virginia now living in Medellin. Raul has lived in Medellin for a few months and he’s gotten to know Medellin quite well, so I really wanted his input on what it was like for an American living in Medellin, especially one with Colombian roots and who speaks the language fluently.
Afterwards we headed over Parque Poblado area to hook up with the local punk band Los Suziox (LSZX) as they rehearsed. The rehearsal space was really tight for two cameras but the music was really good. LSZX plowed through their big “hits” “Armas Silenciosas” (Silent Arms) and “Perfeccion” (Perfection) before launching into some of their older songs that they are in the process of re-recording.
About half way through rehearsal they surprised me with a rendition of Social Distortion’s “Don’t Drag Me Down”. They knew it is my favorite song so they invited me to sing lead while Andres (lead singer) sang backup. It was a thrill and we made it through most of the song without a hitch, but I do shudder to think I’ll have to look at the footage when we review the dailies. Hopefully that will never see the light of day.
After a brief on camera interview with the band we headed back to the hotel to pack. Turns out I had neglected to bring sunscreen to Guatape and paid the price. I was sporting a beautiful farmer’s sunburn.
So far so good but I can’t say I’m comfortable being on camera just yet. I know it’s just a matter of time but I’m not sure how much longer I want to continue feeling this discomfort. Life was so much easier behind the camera, directing someone else. Now I have to worry about bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, sunburns and what to wear.
Speaking of sleep I better get some. Tomorrow is another early day as we have to wake up early to catch the bus for the 5 hour ride to Pereira. I’m off to pack!