The University of Michigan Women's Glee Club is traveling to South Africa to participate in the 2012 Ihlombe! Festival, where we will be joining hundreds of other choral enthusiasts to sing, explore Africa, and share our cultures.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Good Good Good

The Ihlombe! Festival is over. We've had a wonderful time meeting new friends from across the globe. Some teary goodbyes were said tonight and now we must once again face the airport. Hopefully everything will go alot smoother this time than it did last time! I think we are all a little sad to be leaving, a little happy that we made memories, and a little excited to see familiar faces of family and friends back home. And we certainly can't wait to tell you all our stories! See you soon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Welcome to Cape Town!

EVERYONE FINALLY HAS THEIR LUGGAGE. It all made it safely to Johannesburg and accompanied us directly to Cape Town. We are all quite pleased to be in our own clothes-- and I'm sure the other choirs are a little relieved, too.

Yesterday we took a quick tour of Cape Town and made our way to the singing dinner. Though it was a bit unorganized at the beginning through no fault of anyone, it ended up being a great night of socialization and some brief musical interludes from each of the 5 choirs-- we were all together for the first time! We've met a ton of wonderful people through the festival and the good times just keep on getting better.

Today was a tour of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point--and wow. Wait until you see these pictures. There were incredible views no matter which way you looked. Truly breathtaking in every sense of the word, the walk up to the lighthouse at Cape Point was well worth the work. We moved along to Simon Town and saw some penguins on Boulder Beach and of course got some shopping in; we like to do that whenever we can. We even learned to barter today! The open air markets are really great.

After a brief rest at the hotel this afternoon, we loaded up for dinner at the Gold Museum Restaurant, which was described as an evening full of authentic African food served by waitstaff in traditional dress with all the explanations we could want. And so it was. The evening was kicked off with a brief drumming session and then we jumped right into dinner-- all 12 courses! From spiced tomato soup, to springbok kabobs, to some sort of rice pudding, we were all in awe of the incredible dishes. But that wasn't even the best part. The music continued throughout the evening with dancers who even required group participation. We have some ladies in our choir who really know how to get their african groove on! It was a wonderful time and the entire restaurant was like one big party-- or rather, one big "Jol", a South African word we learned today.

Tomorrow is our anti-penultimate day of tour. We have two concerts left, and then we will be back on our way to America. I'm sure that's still plenty of time to make lots of memories and have a really great time. See you soon!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Finally we have a group photo with everyone present! This was taken our first night in South Africa, at Huckleberry's Restaurant. We were all fed delicious baked potatoes with various toppings and a salad and had our first legal glass or wine (or bottle of beer or water in some cases). Since then of course, as you've read, we've moved on to see beautiful villas in Pretoria, impoverished villages in Alexandra, and an incredible safari in Honeydew. The trip so far has been an obvious juxtaposition of first and third worlds. Living in the Heia Safari Range for the last 2 days has been incredible. I feel like a celebrity with endless amounts of money to spend-- I mean, did you ever imagine that you could wake up, look outside your window and see a Giraffe eating from your tree? Well we pretty much all experienced that. But just a few kilometers away is a squatters camp where people have made their own tiny little homes and walk to a from their market cart--or work-- every day. And as I'm sure you read about, Alexandra was a town full of poverty, and yet people were still so pleasant! It's been incredible to be able to see both sides of South Africa, and to experience the true Africa as a group. Tomorrow we fly to Cape Town-- I'm sure there is plenty more to see there and plenty more dichotomies to explore. Til then, keep your fingers crossed for smooth sailing!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

For The Love Of Music  Barb:   We awoke to the sunrise at the Murrayfield villa, finally well rested and and wearing underwear that we washed ourselves! We then enjoyed a beautiful breakfast, which fascinated me with the cheese stuffed sausages and exotic fruits. From the outdoor living rooms to the color-themed decor, our stay at the villa was a beautiful first impression of our South African extravaganza.       Moving on, we  attended the morning mass at Saint Hubert's Roman Catholic Church, where we exchanged music and culture with the people of Alexandra. As we stood on the stage and sang through Things That Never Die, we couldn't help but get a little teary-eyed. This is it. After a long struggle to get here, we are finally in Africa! As we went to sing Remember, a new friend of ours, a man of he church, asked us to sing Two South African pieces. As Ari began her solo, her voice captured and filled the church, unifying a people of diverse background.       The reception by the people of Saint Hubert's was one of the most incredible moments of my life. As we left the church, our hands were shook, our praises sung, and we were welcomed back anytime. If you have ever been to Alexandra, you have experienced the poverty in which the people live. Growing up in Michigan, my family never had a ton of money. Comparatively, we may have been considered poor. However, as we walked the streets of Alexandria, I realized how incredibly lucky I have been. Dead rats, trash, and broken bottles fill the streets. With an unemployment rate of 70%, most of the people live in shacks. People wait their entire lives to be placed in nicer apartments,and many times, they die waiting, hopes of overcoming poverty never fulfilled.       This being my first time out of the States, my eyes have been opened to the conditions that our fellow humans endure. The most incredible part? The people welcomed us with open arms, no grudges held, no questions asked. Today, I earned respect for the people of Alexandra, a place of strength, survival, and smiles. Mary: "We don't worry about time, we worry about life." this is what the father said as he greeted us this morning outside of St. Huberts Catholic Church in Alexandra. We were shown around their gracious yet humble campus which serves people including youth, elderly, and the terminally ill. Everyone welcomed us with open arms and open hearts. It was especially incredible to Walk upstairs to hear the choir rehearsal of St. Hubert's Choir. Our host, brother Patrick, joined in with their song and movement and everyone was truly enjoying themselves. We all joined arms for a picture before we headed down for a mass beginning quite late; but nobody was worried about time. They were worried about life. And I know we all enjoyed getting a glimpse into their life. Ari: this evening has been beautiful, except for the loss of our luggage. Again. As of now there is no word of it being in the airport. Enough of bad news, though. I'm still so happy to be here and regardless of the loss of winter clothes I don't mind sitting in the cold. Especially to see the safari tomorrow!!        After the church we went to meet the other choirs to perform. All of the other choirs were awesome. We heard a smaller group from Australia, Belgium, new Zealand and here- South Africa. We watched for a couple of hours and then had a mind- blowing workshop where we learned some dances from various tribes(I.e Zulu) and songs. We sang together and danced together for hours. I was so lucky to be " adopted" by a couple of women from the African choir and make new friends from all over the world. I love it here. I love the clothes, the people, the song, the dance and overall the culture.       Good news- luggage will be here tomorrow morning! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

      It was honestly looking like we weren't going to make it to South Africa this morning. We got to the airport four hours before our flight, we were told by South African Airlines that we had guaranteed ourselves only 8 seats and 7 of us were to be left on standby. As a group, there was a lot of stress-tears, discussion of suing, and of course many an hour of back pain and hunger. In the end, we had to rush to the gate an hope for the best. When we arrived at the gate, the situation was looking grim. However, immediately before the flight, an attendant came up to us and said " well, who is going?.. All of you!" I don't think I've seen us celebrate so hard before this, albeit a short fiesta. Cheers, happy tears and hugs abounded, we rushed to board the plane. None of us near each other.       So here we are! On the last stretches of our 16 hour plane ride. I don't know if any of you have ever traveled over the Ocean, but it is absolutely one of the most wonderful assaults on the senses one can ever have- especially if you're lucky enough to get someone nice sitting next to you. The plane is cramped, but more spacious than your typical national planes. There are three isles: a center isle with four seats across a two sandwiching rows of pairs. The plane holds over two-hundred people of different identity, speaking different languages and riding the same flight for varied reasons. Ive been fortunate to end up next to a wonderful woman from Joberg (born and raised) who goes by her childhood nickname Dodo. We've been chatting on and off the entire ride. She even taught me how to say some fun phrases that South Africans use. For example "Sawubona" which is a way to say hello.      In just a couple hours I'll be saying Sawubona to Africa and am so looking forward to it. I'm even looking forward to adjusting to the six hour time change.      All in all, all is well- with the exception of our runaway luggage.  Maura:  We have arrived in Africa and are comfortably situated in our gorgeous villa in pretoria!! Girls are running to each others rooms with exclamations of joy and wonder at this European style accommodation. Our native " Joberg" tour guide Dan has already shown us the city of Pretoria through a highway of beautiful night lights as he answers a flurry of questions. I can safely say that all glee girls are awestruck. We enjoyed an amazing dinner of "spuds" at a cute restaurant upon arrival and with glasses of wine in hand we toasted to a good trip and finally being here together. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How many United airport reps does it take to get to Africa?

Hello there everyone! Today has been nothing less than stressful. Firstly we had weather complications that lead to ultimately missing our connection from Dulles to Johannesburg. The United representatives lead us on a goose chase' first where we were going to fly in NYC to stay overnight and fly to Africa in the morning. Then we were changed to an immediate fligt to Newark which was supposed to lead us to Zurich then to Johannesburg after a ten hour layover. Upon arrival to Newark we found out that we would be unable to all fit on the flight from Zurich and had to fly to Dulles. Here we're are now, staying in the Fairfield Inn overnight to try to make the flight in the evening. Overall, this has absolutely been an adventure. After some greasy airport dinners, laughs on our multiple tiny planes, and discussion of alternate personalities/ aliases (queen frosty), I can safely say " at least we've bonded". I'm looking forward to a hopefully smooth day of travel tomorrow. Woo!!! :)

Flight Delayed

as we sit anxiously in the Detroit airport, we cannot help but feel a bit of anxiety and lament. it seems that due to two second weather complications we cannot make our flight to washington dc. we will keep you posted