The icemen cometh — or maybe not

It was crazy to try to put on an ice show in the blazing Caribbean heat that bakes one of the world’s poorest countries.

Written by TRENTON DANIEL | Port-au-prince | Published: August 27, 2013 12:37 am

Doubters said it was crazy to try to put on an ice show in the blazing Caribbean heat that bakes one of the world’s poorest countries.

Yet,after nearly a year of postponement after postponement,the latest this Friday,Haiti keeps hoping ‘Haiti on Ice’ will actually happen. Soon. Maybe. If the ice doesn’t melt.

On April 20,some young Haitians got a chance to play on a startling stage for sweltering Port-au-Prince: an expanse of shiny,frozen water in a downtown basketball gym.

It might not have been as miraculous to the participants as the ice-making machine in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude was to residents of the fictional Macondo,but before last week,few Haitians had ever seen anything like it.

They gleefully pulled on skates and took spins on the ice. “In other cities,it’s cold,” said Laila Bien-Aime,21. “In Haiti,it’s very,very hot. These are two different worlds coming together.”

Bien-Aime was joined by a band of roller skaters. They got their first brief go at the ice on August 18,and two days later they looked right at home while zipping about on the rink. “We would like this activity to be long-term,” said Reginald Jean,27.

The unlikely idea to put on an ice show in Haiti arose last year after Francois Yrius of Super Canal Prod,a Guadeloupe-based exhibition company organising the show,met tourism minister Stephanie Villedrouin.

She urged Yrius to hold an ice show in Haiti and convinced him to lay aside his concerns,such as how much it would cost and the other complications of putting on such a spectacle in a country where much of the poor infrastructure has been battered by the 2010 earthquake,other disasters and neglect.

Since then,the show has been cancelled more than a dozen times for various reasons,the main one being an inability to keep the ice frozen. Half the show’s dozen performers missed their flights to the Caribbean nation for the show that was supposed to start August 23. Several international figure skaters were among those expected.

At first,Yrius tried to hold the show outdoors,but organisers finally surrendered to the heat and moved into the gym. Still,it’s August and it costs $1,600 an hour to run the generator that keeps the ice solid.

The delays have become something of a running joke for Haitian media. After yet another cancellation,journalist Claude Bernard Serant quipped about Haiti being a country “where the possible is impossible”.

AP

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