A confluence of events - social, political, logistical and spiritual - caused us to postpone our long-anticipated residency in Caracas. While we were changing planes in Panama City, our layover turned into a five hour opportunity to reevaluate our situation, based on the intel that was coming our way.
Obama released a statement that outlined the growing hostilities between the US and Venezuela. There had already been a strong anti-American sentiment, but now a iffy situation had turned into something potentially dangerous and full of negative political implications.
Out touring staff did an incredible job dealing with last minute decision. At 1:30am we pulled our bags off the plane and went to the first hotel that could accommodate us, a Hard Rock Hotel. The net morning we had a meeting to discuss what would become of the next few days. It was decided we would stay in Panama and create a residency. We reached out to our friends Ruben Blades and Danilo Perez. Within 24 hours we had arranged up a schedule that included masterclasses, workshops, a concert for kids, two nights in a club and even a brunch at the American Embassy (who also came through with money to pay for a large part of our hotel expense).
The whole experience has pulled the band together in the way that difficult situations often do. While there existed the option of sending people home for five or six days, it was the overwhelming sentiment among the band we stay together and go through this as a group, and search for alternative gigs and educational opportunities - not necessarily to raise money (it will be impossible to make up the huge losses incurred) but to complete what our mission has always been: to bring soul, spirit and connection in the form of performances and teaching to places on the world that don't ordinarily have the chance to experience them.
As we get ready to board our plane to Lima, Peru, I reflect on the past week, and it’s clear this was meant to happen. It was no coincidence we ended up here.