Tour Blog

Welcome to the Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir Tour Blog! This blog is updated every summer while the boys and girls are traveling to perform across the country and around the world.

Two Words:

We're here.

Okay, so more than two words: After yet another day of delays (but fortunately a ton of rest at the hotel), we FINALLY got new boarding passes, went through security, and headed to our gate. It was a miraculous feeling...like we had just reached the finish line of a marathon or something else epic like that.

The girls were free to explore the terminal, grab a quick coffee or bite to eat, stock up on some snack food, and charge up their phones for about an hour. We were all ready to board at 6PM, when we heard the announcement that boarding would be delayed because the plane had been held up a bit. Seeing as this was just a normal occurrence by now, we accepted our fate and waited it out--even making some new friends in the process (a very cute four-year-old girl, a member of the T&T National Steelpan Orchestra, and some fellow stranded travelers). When the call came over the PA for the boarding of our flight, there was much rejoicing. We hopped on our plane, buckled up, and enjoyed the ride...to be delayed yet again on the tarmac due to weather.

Looking at the weather maps on our phones, we realized that we were in some serious trouble if we didn't take off very soon. There was a huge line of thunderstorms heading our way that would have made it impossible for a takeoff. After saying a little prayer, the engines revved, and we heard the announcement: "Flight crew, prepare for takeoff." As the plane barreled down the runway, the ecstatic applause of the Princeton Girlchoir echoed triumphantly through the fuselage. If that last sentence seemed dramatic, it was meant to be--after going through so much these past few days, actually taking off for Trinidad seemed like the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.

The flight itself was easy enough--we got dinner onboard (chicken with pasta, or just pasta with pasta if you were a vegetarian), some of us enjoyed "Captain America II" as the in-flight movie (I didn't), and most of us were just so exhausted that we slept through the majority of the trip. We had no trouble landing, and it was quick and painess gathering our things and exiting the plane. I did notice that for the first time in my entire traveling history, the pilots were not out saying goodbye and "Thanks for flying with such and such airlines" to us. It's just as well, as I would have been tempted to say something along the lines of, "It's nice to see you are 'feeling better'--wink wink, nudge nudge. Thank you for inconveniencing so many people with your lame strike." 

It was then off to immigration/customs. This part was actually a little bit rough--I was the first to go through the line, and was unable to answer the majority of the questions asked of me, trying to speak for the entire group.

Customs: "How many days will you all be here?"
Ryan: "I don't know--originally we were supposed to be here from the 1st through the 7th."
Customs: "When are you all leaving?"
Ryan: "I don't know--due to our travel complications, I think we are still trying to figure that out. And besides that issue, not all of us are leaving at the same time due to travel restrictions of some of the girls."
Customs: "What is the flight number of your departing flight?"
Ryan: "Seriously? I don't even know what day we're leaving..."

We all did our best at answering their questions, and apparently we did well enough because we all made it through. We picked up our luggage (it all made it, much to my surprise--the way things have been going, I was half expecting our luggage to end up in Hong Kong), met our tour guide, got on our busses, and enjoyed the long ride to our hotel...driving on the LEFT side of the road! About 3/4 of the way through the ride, I heard one of the girls exclaim, "OH MY GOSH! I JUST REALIZED WE ARE RIDING ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD!" followed by, "Whoa..."

We are now all checked into our hotel--seems to be lovely enough upon first inspection. There's Wi-Fi, so I'm sure the girls will be mostly happy. I say "Mostly" because you are only able to be logged in on two devices at any time per room, and there are four girls in each room. Hopefully they work out a system. Meanwhile, I'll just enjoy being able to use my computer and iPad without any potential for roommate drama!

Okay. It's 3:30. Breakfast ends at 10AM tomorrow, and then it's off to...I'm not exactly sure. The schedule is in flux, and I know we have a concert with someone in the evening. No need to go into details now, as I'm sure I'll fill you in tomorrow night!

-R Dawg

Trinidud or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being Delayed

I shall begin with a haiku:

Did we fly today?
No no no no no no no
No, no we did not

For those of you who aren't in the loop, we were kept on the ground for the second consecutive day. The day started out optimistically enough--an early morning wake up call at 5AM, including the much-welcomed news that the girls could pick up their luggage in the lobby (this was a surprise for those who fell asleep before the luggage was retrieved last night). Everyone managed to meet right on time at 6AM with their luggage, and we once again headed to the airport. After being dropped off at our terminal, we resumed our post by the check-in counters. We eventually had to move closer to the entrance, due to a massively congested walkway--the Peace Corps, combined with PGC, combined with a ton of young people heading to Israel made for utter gridlock for anyone trying to pass through that particular part of the airport.

When it became clear that our 7:50AM flight was NOT going to happen, we graciously accepted our $12 breakfast vouchers and headed downstairs for a lovely meal courtesy of Caribbean Airlines. Because we had lots of time this morning, many of the girls opted to eat at the diner. While most girls chose traditional breakfast foods, I know that a few supplemented their breakfasts with ice cream sundaes. In their defense, we had been up so long that it might have felt like they were eating lunch. Always sociable, the girls met some nice ladies from South Africa (who were in the States for the sole purpose of "shopping"--must be nice!) and got to learn more about the songs from South Africa which are in our tour repertoire. As they eventually began to trickle back upstairs, they joined together in a rousing round of "The Animal Game" (I missed this because I was watching the second set of the Murry vs. Dimitrov Wimbledon match). This eventually changed gears and became the largest game of "Apples to Apples" in which I've ever taken part, making for some very interesting word combinations.

Because we were STILL waiting to hear more information about the flight that was supposed to be heading up from Port of Spain to pick us up, we decided that maybe it would be fun to go sing for the Caribbean Airlines folks at the ticket counter. When we got closer to that part of the airport, we realized that might be seen as a security risk and decided to not jeopardize our good standing with security. Heading back to our little spot, it was decided that braiding each others' hair would be our next group activity. With chains of girls (I think the most I saw in a row at one point was NINE) braiding hair, we were quite a sight to behold! With a little bit of encouragement, I decided that I should also get in on the fun times and offered my head of hair as a canvas for their hair styling artistry. I'm happy to say I received a very tasteful "crown" of braids, tied off in the back with a borrowed hair tie. I wore it with pride for the rest of the morning, and didn't pay any mind to odd looks that strangers might have been giving me.

As the morning quickly became afternoon (and still no word of our special flight), a large amount of the girls returned to the hotel to eat another comped lunch. They returned to the airport just in time to find out that we finally had a confirmed flight time: 10:30 AM on Thursday morning! Thankfully, Miss Butler and our tour coordinator were able to make some awesome plans for us that softened the blow: a return to the hotel, followed by getting dressed up (always a fun thing for the girls!), followed by a bus ride into Manhattan for dinner and a Broadway show! This more than satisfied our desire to do something rather than continuing our never-ending idling at the airport.

We got on a party bus (featuring the sweet stylings of "Wicky wicky...Stefan the DJ...scratch scratch"), headed back to the hotel to get changed, and then headed into Manhattan for a nice Mexican buffet at Chevy's. The original plan involved heading into Times Square for a little while, but Mother Nature had other plans that involved flash flood-inducing rain and dangerous lightning. 15 minutes to show time, we braved the storm and made our way over to the theater to see "Mamma Mia". For some of the girls, it was their first Broadway show--and it was a very entertaining one at that! For those of you that don't know, the music in this show is all ABBA tunes--capped off with three rousing encore renditions of the classics "Mamma Mia", "Dancing Queen", and "Waterloo" that had a good chunk of the audience dancing in the aisles. Afterwards, we met, got autographs, and took pictures with some of the cast members by the stage door. It was one of those experiences that made us all forget that we were actually supposed to be in Trinidad...

The girls have been incredibly flexible and awesome sports through all of our travel issues. It really is inspiring to see that no matter WHERE we are, or WHAT we are going through, these girls stick together and are able to have an awesome time. I was remarking tonight that if we were having this much fun in our own back yard, imagine how awesome it will be if/when we actually get to Trinidad! Hopefully tomorrow night I'll be writing about what that's like!

Wish us luck!

-R Dawg

Clown Bus?

Cancelled

Nap Time at the Airport

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Trinidad...

Greetings from our beautiful accommodations in lovely Jamaica! Well, Jamaica, Queens...

Surely by now you've heard that we've had a less-than-stellar day of travel (that's putting it politely). Despite some expected tiredness and grumpiness, the girls are surprisingly upbeat and were even heard singing in the hallways tonight (not in a "disturbing the peace" way, but a friendly and spirited way that made us proud of their good attitudes!).

Before I get into the details of the day, I regret to inform you that because we are using a different platform for the blog, I'll not be able to post pictures within the blog posts as I have in years past--I'll try posting some individual pictures as separate posts as we go.

Anyway, here's the story:

After making it to JFK from PDS in record time, the rumors of a cancelled flight were realized to be all too true. It was an unfortunate start to the day, but by no means an insurmountable challenge. Spirits seemed to be optimistic as we dragged our luggage to the most out-of-the-way area in front of the check in desks. Some of the girls took the extra time to catch up on some lost sleep from the night before; some girls enjoyed a quick game of "Apples to Apples"; some girls even tried to get a little exercise in (interestingly, this involved tying someone's legs together at the ankles--unsuccessfully). Needless to say, everyone found their own way to pass the time.

When Miss Butler returned from the ticket counter, she shared with us the dreaded news:

"Now girls, remember our word of the day: 'Flexibility'! Our flight was cancelled because the pilot was sick. The next flight they can get us on is at 7:45PM."

"But Miss Butler, don't they have backup pilots?"

Smart girls! They realized there was something more to the story from the beginning. Unbeknownst to us (but perhaps knownst to the airline), Caribbean Airlines pilots had chosen TODAY of all days to stage a strike by calling in sick. Because it was still so early in the morning, no one yet realized the severity of the issue. But it was just getting started...

As the adults tried to get a handle on the situation and figure out how we would be spending the rest of the day before the 7:45PM flight, the girls decided it would be the perfect time to check out the self-service Dunkin' Donuts kiosk (thank heavens--we needed it!). Fully sugared, caffeinated, and ready to face whatever curveballs the day might throw at us, we went back up to our gathering place, checked all of our luggage for safe-keeping at the airport, and headed down to the air train. Despite a bit of a crazy moment getting all of the girls onto one train (and some ridiculous back-talk from an overly sassy airport employee), we all managed to get to the Federal Circle Station in one piece. We were whisked away on a bus to our hotel--one of those typically smaller shuttle busses, with all 40-some of us packed in like a bunch of clowns in a clown car. One unfortunate man who happened to be riding with us was wincing the entire ride to the hearty screaming of the girls who had the misfortune of standing in the aisle, reacting to each turn and big bump in the road. 

We arrived at the Radisson in time to enjoy the breakfast buffet (believe it or not, all of this had taken place before 9AM). After breakfast, most of us went to bed and slept for a few hours. Then it was lunch time--another buffet, but this one slightly less appetizing. Once lunch was over, we were informed that our 7:45PM flight was cancelled and that we would now be taking a 2:00AM flight. After bemoaning this new wrinkle in the plan, we headed into one of the conference rooms and had a nice, a cappella rehearsal. The girls were real troopers, and we were able to get a lot of work done. We managed to finish in time to catch the majority of the USA vs. Belgium World Cup match (a small contingent stayed in the lobby, while others either watched it in their rooms or decided their time was better spent napping). I'm not sure which was most disappointing--the USA loss, or the fact that around that same time we got word that our 2AM flight was now cancelled and the official news that the pilots were on strike. To make matters worse, we were also hearing that if we were able to change airlines, none of them flew direct flights to Trinidad and we would likely get trapped in Florida due to the impending tropical storm. All of these anxious thoughts made for a bit of a tense dinner, which featured many of the girls calling home to give updates. On a happy note, we were able to sing happy birthday to Ella who was celebrating her birthday today! So we had that going for us, which is nice...

From there, it's been a low-key evening. Everyone has been getting some rest, and a few girls and chaperones went back to the airport and gathered our luggage so at the very least we can rest assured that we will be able to wear clean clothes tomorrow. I should probably go to bed now, too--we need to be ready to roll at 6AM for our next attempt at getting a flight.

And so, that is where I must leave you, dear readers. In the spirit of the old radio serials, I feel like I need to end in this way:

"Will we get a flight to Trinidad tomorrow morning as is the current plan? Will the pilots end their strike? Will we get a comped breakfast? Stay tuned to the tour blog and find out tomorrow!"

-R Dawg

Countdown to the bus...

...oh my goodness! If my calculations are correct, we will be leaving PDS for JFK in 5 hours and 45 minutes! I guess I should start packing...
-R Dawg

 

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