We’ve been back from Colombia for over 2 weeks and I am just now getting a chance to write the full recap for our travels. I do apologize for the tardiness, we’ve been incredibly busy going through over 2,000 photos before we uploaded them to the gallery and about 200+ video clips. With that being said, let’s do a recap of what we’ve done while in South America.
Our trip to South America was to showcase our international athletic talents as well as work with local organizations to help bring awareness of some of the problems the youth are being faced with in their communities.
The capital of Colombia and also our headquarters while in South America. With the high elevation, Bogota, was much cooler & wetter than the other cities we visited.
On our first event, we were introduced to the crowd with our signature Macleem music and even had a smoke machine going; reminded us of the Dave Chapelle skit about Charlie Murphy playing Prince. The crowd loved it though, the highlight of that night was having the kids try and copy the dribbling moves that Jay performed. The following days we visited several schools where we spoke with the students about remaining positive in the face of adversity and working hard to accomplishing their dreams. Of course every place we went we played a few fun games of 3-on-3 and a few brave kids played Jay 1-on-1. At one school we ran through a tunnel of balloons being waves at us by the students, while Sirius (made famous by the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era) played over the outdoor speakers. With the local news stations covering the event, we ended the performance with No He Didn’t dunking over the school’s principal and 6 kids!
Our longest stay was outside of Bogota was in La Guajira. We stayed on the community base located in one of the world’s largest open-air coal mines. This base houses well over 2,000 people. We visited the school and spoke with a few of the students briefly before taking a tour of the base. During our down time we had the opportunity to get in a few rounds of paintball. I don’t know how, but some how Jay & No He Didn’t ended up on the same time and they won each match. Next time I’m picking the teams.
So far each city we’ve been to, No He Didn’t has either broken the rim or cracked the backboard; and that night he kept the streak alive as he shutdown the event after dunking over the Pastor from the La Guajira as he sat blindfolded on a bike!
Despite all the fun we had on the base, there was a serious tone to our trip to this city in the northern part of Colombia, just a short drive from the border of Venezuela. We saw many small communities which thrive from the selling of bootlegged gasoline which they procure from their travels to Venezuela. We also had the privilege of being the first Americans to visit the Wayuu tribe on their Native American reservation. We were there to assist in distributing aid, in the form of packages of food for the residents of this community.
Literally off the beaten path, we took a rocky, muddy, truck ride further into the vegeation which opened up to a wide expanse of land with a solitary stone building in the middle of it. This was their school/community center/town hall. The building had no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing.
In the Wayuu culture, the women take more of a leadership role in regards to a lot of the manual labor and organizational duties. Through our translator, we spoke with the leader of their outreach program, she informed us that this small building is the school for over 300 students. Also that many of them walk to school from distances over 4Km. Those that come from these far distances will sleep in the school for the entire week and return home on Fridays after class has ended. One of the last encounters we had was with a 7 year old boy who lost his sight and hearing due to an infection which he was afflicted with at an early age. We were informed that had he received proper medical attention at that time, there is a strong possibility he would not be partially disabled today.
With a lower elevation and hotter climate, Cartagena was a polar opposite of Bogota. The beach areas were very similar to Miami’s South Beach, with its large condos overlooking the Caribbean sea.
Our first visit was to the town of San Francisco, which is in one of the more impoverished areas of the city. We visited an elementary school and held an impromptu dance competition between a few of the students. I think we may have a few new moves for AirDogg to do after he does a dunk. On our way to the next school visit, we did a brief interview with the local newspaper. The next visit was an exhibition game which was held at the school’s outdoor coliseum in front of over 600 students and faculty members. To get the kids really energized we pulled the teachers out and had them do a dance battle with each other at center court. We did our thing on the court and No He Didn’t ended it with a dunk over one of the students while they sat on a bike! We spent the next two hours signing autographs, taking photos, visiting each class room to thank all the students for having us and leaving them with a positive message of hope and believing in themselves.
With the heat slowly roasting us we took a much needed break on the beach and cooled off in the water. That evening we got a call from one of the local professional teams that wanted to know if we could come out and play an exhibition game with them, apparently several of their players missed the flight to Cartagena so they needed a few extra players to fill the roster. The first half we let their players control the flow of the game, so we can get accustomed to their style. By the time the second half rolled around, we took over. Despite the language barrier, we had a lot of fun running with them and look forward to doing it again.
The next day, we had a radio interview with Eugenio Calvo, one of the top sportscasters in the city. He heard about our game the night before with the local players and had inquired on whether we would consider playing professionally for a team in Cartagena; of course we would, where’s the contract. He was surprised to find out that No He Didn’t is actually related to Dallas Mavericks‘Jason Terry.
Our first night in the Amazon, we met with the Governor of Leticia and toured the city. The following day we did an event in the main park which is located in the center of town. What made this really unique is that the park is filled with trees in which hundreds of parrots reside in during the evening, collectively the birds made so much noise it sounded like just loud screeching. During our event few low flying parrots almost got hit by the basketball. As the evening set in, it began to rain, so we brought the game and the crowd into the nearby school where we took over the gym and continued the festivities.
Afterwards we had dinner with the Governor, where they tried to convince us to have one of the local delicacies, which none of us tried!
On our final day, we toured the Amazon river and took a personal tour of one of our hosts’ vacation home/farm. Plenty of tropical fruit and animals. Largest animals we saw while in the jungle was a dog (lol). We did meet with several fishermen who actively fish for piranhas.
The last city we visited on our 2 week venture. Medellin reminded me of of a less congested Bogota or what Manhattan would be like if it had no subways and it’s streets were about two lanes smaller. During our two day trip to the city made popular (for some) by Pablo Escobar, we visited orphanages and spent a lot of time with the kids. We had a lot of fun, on our departure they gave us beautiful gifts that we’ll always cherish. We look forward to returning to Colombia soon.