The day got off to a great start with most of the girls getting up and having breakfast on time. This was no mean feat because it should be noted that their body clocks would have still been operating on NZ time - i.e. 2.30am in the morning.
After our morning briefing, it was straight onto the bus and on to the Catholic Mass that we were singing at (St Martin of Tours). A last minute change by World Projects meant that our participation was during an actual Mass at this church.
Singing on our own and together with the church's own band, our girls acquitted themselves admirably and meant that we received many rounds of applause from the congregation (bearing in mind that Catholic Masses don't normally involve applause). We were made most welcome in this Church and, although were invited to stay behind for refreshments and donuts, we politely declined and continued on to the next leg of the journey.
A quick change and off we set off again. This time, it was a guided tour around LA, Beverley Hills and surrounds. Did you know that Beverley Hills and LA are two different cities?
We snatched an early lunch at Farmers Market with its many food and fresh vegetable stalls and souvenir shops. Whilst there was lots to choose from, a lot of which was food that most of the girls would not have been familiar with - alligator gumbo comes to mind - the popular choices were foods like sushi, pizza and sandwiches. The pull of the unknown can only stretch so far :)
Back on the bus, we headed to Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame, Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre and Madame Tussauds. There were lots of interesting anecdotes that our tour guide, Sherrie, shared with us.
Then it is was back on the bus and up to the Griffith Observatory for a flying stop and a photo op with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop. The girls were given a choice - the quicker you are with your photos, the more time you'll have for shopping. Needless to say, they were done in a flash .... ;-)
Next stop: Santa Monica Boulevard and Pier. This was quite the novelty for the girls, with the souvenir stalls, theme park, buskers, eating places, people fishing, beach; the girls could not contain themselves and off they went. Without even realising it, the girls became an attraction in their own right as they were all dressed the same - why are they all dressed in blue, I heard someone ask - and they were getting into the music of the buskers. You would have seen Ava leading the girls in a line dance in the video that Jacinta sent on WhatsApp. We had dinner in the restaurant at the end of the pier but, too soon, it was time to head back to the hotel ... for a swim which never eventuated.
In LA, everything looks close on the map but, in reality, there is quite a distance. By the time we had a quick debrief and communicated plans for the next day, it was 9pm and the girls only had 30 minutes to shower, put out their laundry and hit lights-out. The decision was made to cancel swimming; perhaps we'll have time later in the week. At the debrief, we gave out star awards as follows:
Bravery: Isabel Norris-Clark: despite being the youngest girl in the Choir, she is handling being away from family and home as if ... she is really enjoying it!! :)
Caring and Kindness - Vanessa Burmeister: when one of the girls was a bit down, Vanessa took her under her wing and helped her get over it
Team Spirit and Helpfulness: Krissa Lewis and Naomi Nettekoven. While we were stuck in the immigration queues, Krissa and Naomi unloaded our bags off of the carousel - thank goodness for the labels and ribbons; see, they do work! - and had them sorted in colour groups and loaded on trolleys
Best Team - Blue Team: for helping Krissa and Naomi achieve the above. Well done, all. Great teamwork.
My biggest thrill is in seeing how the girls are really getting to know each other better and building those bonds.
Oh, there were two, rather, serious casualties today. Fortunately, they were of the mechanical nature as the cameras of two of our girls gave up the ghost. But, not to worry, we will share the photos that have been taken (and you can download them as you see them appear here) when we get back home so don't worry if your daughter does not bring any photos home; it probably wasn't her fault as I think photos are the last thing on their minds at the moment.
So there ends another successful and fun filled day.