GOODBYE AOTEAROA | The airport was packed with people but none stood out more than Auckland Girls' Choir in their resplendent purple travel uniform.
Thank goodness for Tour Time who arranged our air travel and, almost as importantly, group check-in. What would have been a laborious and time consuming process turned out to be a relative breeze.
Gathering outside the Departure Lounge entrance, the girls bid farewell to their parents by singing the lovely - and apt - "Now is the hour (when we must say goodbye)". There were tears shed by the bucketfuls - and that was only the parents! It was a good start to an exciting and action packed tour to the USA.
HELLO USA | After a long but uneventful night flight to LAX, the team arrived - or, rather, safely fell out of the sky onto the LAX tarmac (the landing was that bumpy) - a little worse for wear but suitably refreshed and rejuvenated by what lay ahead: Disneyland, Hollywood, Outlet Shopping, American accents everywhere (just like on TV or Youtube). It was Game On!
One thing we quickly learnt was that LA is big - in every sense: The airport (there was another plane landing in the same - but parallel - approach as us), airport queues, grumpy airport security guards :)
We were greeted by the lovely and bubbly, Molly Wenske, our resident World Projects project manager who is going to be our chaperone for the next week.
Everyone was hungry (no, we are a good bunch and no one was hangry) so we instigated our first deviation from plan and headed straight to the Bubba Gump restaurant. The girls got their first indication of what it was like to be treated like celebrities: we were warmly welcomed and treated 'real special' as the Americans would say. Also joining the group here was Zoe Clark who had flown up to LA with her family a week earlier. There was lots of excitement and hugging as Zoe made the group, finally, complete.
The staff twigged that there was someone in the group whose birthday it was but that turned out to be two people. And the way they celebrate birthdays at Bubba Gump? They embarrass the living daylights out of them :) And I believe you will have seen the video of Isabel and I having an eat-off (who can eat a cream laden muffin the fastest!) competition.
Yet again, Isabel (pleasantly) surprised us with how brave and hardy and willing-to-give-things-a-go she is. Well done, Isabel.
Then, it was straight to the hotel where the girls were ushered into the Board Room (Mrs Lawson must have mistaken it for a Monday afternoon) and put through their paces with a 45 minute rehearsal for tomorrow's sing at a Sunday Mass. Poor girls would have been beside themselves wondering what their rooms looked like, etc.
But, good things come to those who wait, and, by now, the girls are suitably prepared for tomorrow so, straight after rehearsal, it was straight to their rooms with lights out at 9.30pm LA time.
For some girls, this couldn't come soon enough.