ON THE ROAD WITH TOUR CHOIR
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Dear families and friends,
On the road again, from George to Cape Town. The weather gods have been unbelievably good to us. Yesterday we spent the day outside with beautiful, sunny skies and a pleasant 22 degrees Celsius. Do the rough math: double 22 = 44, plus 32…
WE INTERRUPT THIS LETTER FOR BREAKING NEWS: Pieter just received an email from SABC 3 (South African Broadcasting Corporation), a national TV station, asking if we would be available to sing on their “Expresso” morning show this Friday. A live broadcast. YOU BETCHA!!!! So, Friday, May 6, 7-8am South Africa time. That’s 11-12pm, Thursday night, Colorado time. Google away, and see if you can find us!
…= a balmy 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Today it’s overcast and a bit cooler, but we’re on the bus most of the day, with a forecast for sunny weather by the time we hit Cape Town. One of our goals in Cape Town is to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain. If it’s foggy, this is a useless endeavor, akin to visiting Mount Rushmore when everything is fogged in. Which we’ve done, and had to take the official photo with the presidents in front of a poster. So, we will be rearranging our schedule accordingly, taking advantage of the first sunny opportunity…which may be this afternoon. We’ll keep you posted.
Yesterday, which I think was Tuesday, though at this point we are all quite confused about what day it might be, we were up early and drove along the coast to Knysna and the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Just when we think we’ve had the most amazing experience of our lives, we have another! From Knynsa, a charming little seaside town famous for its oysters, we took a ferry across the estuary to the Reserve. We embarked into what felt like a giant treehouse, built into the side of the mountain all around huge milkwood trees, with giant limbs winding in and out of the floors. It was enchanting. We rode up the side of the mountain in big open-air vehicles, moving in and out of the lush vegetation. In one direction we could look back and see the estuary, with small houseboats and fishing boats dotting the water, large, beautiful houses climbing the mountains on either side, and Knysna sitting quietly in the midst of it all. We looked the other direction and saw Indian Ocean as far as we could see. Hayden took a picture for his Facebook page, and will be “tagging” Antarctica. A very reliable source later told me it would actually be Australia, but I don’t have the heart to break Hayden’s bubble!
Upon reaching the top of the mountain, we hiked back down through the forest and found arches overlooking the estuary, and amazing sea caves waiting to be explored.
I use the term “we” loosely, as I rode the truck back down. I believe this is the first time in 27 years I have not joined a tour adventure, bringing up the rear for the first 15 and leading the pack for the past 12. It was a lonely ride back down the hill. Okay… I have to admit I may have enjoyed the quiet!
The ferry delivered us safely back to Knysna in time for some more shopping. Packing up every day is getting more and more challenging, but it’s well worth the effort when we look at the treasures we have acquired. Nikolas has a drum and shaker, which fits perfectly into his very efficiently packed suitcase: Matti bought a vuvuzela, Madeline a South African flag beanie; Rachel, Lizzie, Annika, Zac, Brendan and Grady found beautiful artwork; Alec and Henry are sporting buffalo and fish bone necklaces, and Hayden has an alligator tooth; Kaela was intrigued by the pop-can-as-elephant recycling plan, while Maddie went for the carved wooden variety; Andrea and Revann are looking forward to driving when they get home, with beaded giraffe key chains; Lyric and Sophia are bejeweled with new bracelets and rings; Jason found a “Big-5” carved horn; and Lydia loves her “hope” painted stone.
Sleep — The tour has been a wonderful combination of performances, sightseeing, and relaxing. Evenings with no performances find us in bed by 8:30 or 9pm. Most mornings start with a 7-7:30am wake-up call. Performance evenings keep us up until 11pm or so, but then we are usually able to sleep in the next morning. Everyone survived the trip over, sleeping well by the second night we were here. Brian has been shocking his roommates with his sleepwalking. The first story came from Tyler, and I thought maybe HE had been dreaming. But Stephen confirmed it several nights later. So, Brian is sleeping well, but his roommates, not so much!
Health — Everyone has been amazing healthy. The occasional sore throat and upset tummy, both easily managed with lots of water, Tylenol, Tums and a good night’s rest. The kids are amazing. They don’t complain, and accept any bump in the road or change in plans with nary a whine. Following a wake up call, 18 rooms are ready to roll in 30 minutes or less. The girls have figured out the hair dryers, adaptors, etc. and are looking beautiful every day. And it’s always interesting to see the hairstyle de jour as the boys emerge from their rooms. I believe there is a LOT of product happening!
Food — I’m not sure any of us will fit into any of our clothes by the time we come home. The food is delicious and plentiful, always something familiar, lots of beef, pork, chicken, potatoes, vegetables and fruit at every meal. Ky has had no problem finding vegetarian options. Breakfasts and dinners are HUGE feasts, with lunches generally some sort of fast food (sandwiches, burgers, pizza) along the way. Last night, when we arrived back at the hotel following our concert, the pub staff was waiting with fresh muffins and hot chocolate. We are quite spoiled.
Journals — We are on journal entry #12 with four more days to go, and struggling to keep up, while working in homework whenever we can. There is so much to see and experience, it’s tough to find time to write about it. Every alum will tell you that, while they may have disliked the exercise of writing in their journals at the time, they find them a priceless memento from precious days spent on tour. We are catching up today, with some rousing African music to inspire us.
Last night’s performance with the South Cape Children’s Choir was a very special one. As much as we have enjoyed, and been blown away by, our evenings with the high school choirs of last week, it was nice to meet a choir with performers mostly the same age as ours. The South Cape Children’s Choir is just as excellent in their way as the high school choirs. Again, aiming for competitions and tours, they were in fine form. They are mostly Afrikaaners, of Dutch descent, with a very different sound than their Black African neighbors in Soweto and Jo’burg. They sing a lot of sacred music, with a very spirited, clear and beautiful sound. We were honored to share the stage, if not just a bit intimidated.
The performance was held at the Bartholomeu Dias Maritime Museum in Mossel Bay. This is the sight of the “postal tree,” where explorer Dias acted as delivery man for letters left at the tree – letters that would be tucked into a sailors boot for safekeeping. To this day, many postal boxes are in the shape of a boot. The museum houses a life-size replica of the caravel Dias used on his 1488 exploration of the area. This ship was built in Portugal and sailed to Mossel Bay in 1988 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Dias’ trip.
We sang with the caravel in the background, and it was a perfect performance spot. The Afrikaaner audience was also quite different than the African audiences. Last week, the kids were initially a bit taken aback by the loud boisterous response of the audiences. Last night, the audience was more like an American audience, and the kids were a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the audience was appreciative and enthusiastic, but they showed their enthusiasm with sincere applause after each song, as opposed to last weeks whooping and hollering during the songs. I think Jay spoke for all of us when he said he missed the whooping and hollering!
We closed the concert with two joint songs, “Do Re Mi” and “Tshosholoza.” We taught our South Cape colleagues the “Do Re Mi” choreography, and they showed us some “Tshosholoza” moves. Many emails and addresses were exchanged, as well as several phone numbers entered into cell phones. So…parents…while I’m not exactly sure how it all works, you might want to check those incoming calls when the cell phones get charged upon our return!
We are about halfway to Cape Town, and napping is us, kids and staff alike. It is so incredibly beautiful here that we are reluctant to close our eyes. Pieter has switched the African music to classical nap music. Power down, 5-4-3-2-1, silence. An hour or so later, we awake refreshed and ready for lunch, which we will have following a short walk-about at an upcoming rest stop.
I believe I have caught up to myself, so I will stop here and we’ll get this off to you from our hotel in Cape Town. Look for us on the telly!!!