And we’re off!! It really has happened and the long months of fundraising are now bearing fruit.
The whole choir and touring party first got together was in Sydney after we had all got through customs and immigration.
Some of us got through more happily than others as so many things were confiscated including duty free alcohol, half used sun block and a pair of scissors that had got there from Auckland!
All water bottles were confiscated, opened or unopened – I suppose terrorists can use water bombs too.
Davey Plumb had a special relationship with metal detectors and was quite happy to show the officers exactly where his replacements where – to the extent on baring almost all to prove his point!
So the trip proper has started and we are up and running…. well not running in Dubai as the temperature was 45 degrees during the day and a cool 35 degrees at night.
Thankfully everywhere inside was fully air conditioned so the men could rehearse in more pleasant conditions. We definitely felt sorry for the guys who had to rehearse after a 14 hour flight but for the supporters, the shops awaited.
For the homesick guys, Dubai being a ‘dry’ country (pardon the pun) meant they couldn’t cool down with a pint but some of the more intrepid hired a car to see the sights of the city. Fortunately, in their travels they found an Irish pub where, once inside, felt like any other Irish pub in any part of the world. They just had to try the Guinness to make sure it was authentic and then had a lunch of roast mutton (in the heat of Dubai???) – just like home.
Most of the touring group went on a trip into the desert which included a 4 wheel drive through sand dunes, a camel ride and an Arabic cultural show. The funniest part was the sand dune drive where there were about 30 cars traveled in convoy. It was nothing like we expected and for most, a fairly subdued affair. The real highlight though was the camel ride or should I say, watching others riding the camels. The mounting and dismounting certainly showed who had a sense of balance and who was (or was not) supple. Very illuminating – pictures to follow.
The show was made up of whirling Dirvishes who certainly whirled complete with illuminated skirts, children’s umbrellas and various accoutrements. This was followed by fire dancing and the much anticipated (by the men!) belly dancing. In fact Dr Bill took great delight in recording the event on the trusty camcorder; unfortunately the excitement got to him and the footage was so shaky it had to be consigned to the cutting room floor.
The meal was delicious with a variety of salads, humous and tabhouli, skewers of lamb and chicken, different rice dishes and curries. I didn’t realise that pasta salad and chips were part of the authentic Arabic diet but it was all very interesting.
The wake up call at 3.30am after a night of Arabic culture felt very harsh. Struggling to get cases packed, onto the right bus and to the airport was a severe test of our sleep walking ability. After a 7 hour flight we arrived in Old Blighty, land of the long white smog (at this point I should add I am not mocking England as it is my home country). The temperature was a passable cool 18 degrees and much more bearable.
We had a few hours before the men were required for a rehearsal so we used the time as best we needed. Many headed for the bar for liquid refreshment, some headed to town for geographical refreshment and others fell asleep looking for somnabulistic refreshment.
After a very nice group dinner, the men had their first practice in the UK and finished, reasonably pleased with the progress in their performance but absolutely shattered at 9pm. And with that merry note, I finish my report and bid you goodnight.