Jet-lagged Shanren arrive in the U.S. for their Arts Midwest World Fest tour

By Ken Carlson

What’s that old postal creed? “Neither rain nor snow nor…” Shanren, an Arts Midwest World Fest ensemble from Yunnan Province in China, appears to have what it takes to be postal carriers.

Most of the group traveled from Beijing to Minneapolis via Chicago on January 8. Falling snow tied O’Hare Airport into a knot that evening. The tram stopped working, buses brought on-line to take over for the tram were completely jammed and taxis were full as well.

Our trusty road manager, Shigeyo Henriquez, met the guys at Terminal 5 and helped them finally catch a bus that could get them to Terminal 1 for their flight to Minneapolis. That flight, which was scheduled to leave at 7:30 pm, was delayed over and over until it finally departed around 1:00 a.m.

Our weary musicians got to the hotel around 3:00 a.m. after 24 hours of travel.

Two exhausted travelers in the airport
Fu Te and Yabo at O’Hare airport in Chicago, completely exhausted! Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

If only this were the end of the story, but it’s not. Poor Li Guohua was left behind in China because the Consulate experienced computer issues that meant Li did not get his visa in time to fly with the others. Just as Friday business was about to close for the weekend and at the point where hope seemed to have deserted us, Li got his visa.

Arts Midwest quickly rescheduled his flight and, because Li has never traveled internationally before, talked him through the customs and flight transfer process as best we could. Li made it! While on the Beijing flight, he met a bilingual fellow from Kunming who also happened to be traveling on to Minneapolis. That was a big help along with the fact the Beijing flight arrived San Francisco 40 minutes early making an otherwise tight layover much more comfortable.

Shanren is now in Orange City, Iowa which is the first of five stops on this Arts Midwest World Fest tour.

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