Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 6: Mr. Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Day 6 - May 23, 2012

We arose are 3 am this morning in order to load the bus for a 4 am departure.  With the exception of one room of heavy sleepers, everyone got up as planned.  The one room did not answer the phone or the door so they got a forced entry wake up call.  At that point they got with the program.  I should talk a little about our bus.  It is a double Decker, where the bottom level seats 12 people and the upper deck seats about 45 if I counted correctly.  On the top deck the front row of seats actually sits on top of the driver's compartment which sits below on the lower level.  Those front seats get an unrestricted view of the outdoors from a perch some 10-12 feet above the ground.  The upper seats are nice, with leg/calf rests and rearward seat back travel around 60 degrees.  The lower level, while not that great for sight seeing, is amazing for comfort.  These seats are about 1/3 larger than the upper seats and they recline almost flat.  Think 1st class airplane seats and that level of comfort.  Regardless of which level one chooses, all of us have really enjoyed the comfort of our bus while touring Mar del Plata.  The disadvantage in such a bus is luggage storage.  However, our loading crew was so efficient that they got all our bags stored without having to resort to using chairs for storage.  The bus driver was so impressed that he offered the boys a job with his bus company.

So the five hour drive back to Buenos Aires turned into six when we hit  rush hour traffic.  However we arrived exactly two hours before our departure.  We got tickets and proceeded to a food court to wait for the gate to be announced.  Once the gate was announced we proceeded through security.  Argentina is a bit more relaxed about security.  It was nice not having to take off shoes. The plane was a Boeing 737-200 and our flight was full.  An hour and a half later and having traveled more than 1700 kilometers northeast of Buenos Aires, we arrived at the Iguazu airport.  Then the usual...go to baggage claim, collect our belongings, proceed to ground transportation, load bus, depart for hotel.  I told you about our bus in Mar del Plata.  Well the bus on which we rode to the hotel was a ghetto version of its brother in Mar del Plata. But this was cool, because it had character and the seats were even more comfy because of years of use. 

When the festival organizers found out we were arriving earlier than originally planned, they rescheduled a rehearsal so that we could make part of it.  Upon arrival to the hotel, we unloaded our luggage in the lobby and went directly to the choral rehearsal in progress. They paused the rehearsal in order to introduce our boys to the other students.  They gave us a round of applause.  The boys took their place on the back row so they could learn the choreography to the pirate song.  Following the rehearsal, the girls immediately approached the boys and the introductions began.  It is amazing what happens when students who love music have such an opportunity as this festival.  After introductions we had to get back to the business at hand...checking into the rooms.

The hotel is very nice...polished stone floors, color schemes in sand and reds, dark stained wooden tables...almost a Manhattan look.  Our rooms are very new.  Each bed has a blanket that has an almost Southwestern look.  The blanket recalls Argentina's gaucho heritage.  Following our assignment of rooms we did have one little glitch.  The rooms were all equipped with stocked refrigerators and baskets with samples of candy, snacks and liquor.  Needless to say we immediately requested the staff to retrieve said items before anyone had opportunity to get into trouble.  I told the boys that when tourists pay $500 a night for such rooms, that their budget allows for such splurges.  Our tbc budget, however, does not.

It appears that only a select number of students are being housed at our, China, and Australia.  This afternoon while the boys had some free time, they encountered some of the Chinese students.  Ms. Lin served as translator.  The Chinese students performed some selections on their native instruments.  The boys replied with renditions of some of our choral literature.

We ate around 8 pm tonight and then the boys were given free time till 10 pm.  Then back to rooms for lights out at 10:30 pm.  We have a 7 am call in the morning.

Before closing tonight I wanted to share one correction and comment on the food diet here in Argentina.  First the correction.  I believe I stated earlier that Mar del Plat a is due East of Buenos Aires.  That is is due South.  Now for the diet information.  I was told by several people prior to traveling to Argentina that the people here eat a heavy diet.  We have found this to be very true.  The diet here consists of lots of carbs and meat.  They love to deep fry stuff.  We have done our best to give the boys a varied diet, but fresh vegetables have been scarce.  Breads and sugar croissants seem to be the staple for breakfasts, and we have had some hotel breakfasts where no protein was present.  No one has gone hungry.  On the contrary, the boys really like all the bread. But with all these late night dinners (when in Rome...) I predict we will have several boys packing some pounds the next time you see them.  We can also say that the boys have been really good about trying foods outside their comfort range.  The hotel here has a fine chef.  The meal this evening had a stuffed tomato.  I talked with the chef and found out he spent nine years in Dallas.  I think tomorrow I will talk with him some more about providing us meals that will be less based on breads so we can cut down on this type intake.

Tomorrow we have several rehearsals with the other choirs.  We also have the first of two solo concerts.  We look forward to exploring Iguazu and singing for the participants and concertgoers at the festival.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir

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