Friday, June 3, 2011

So we made it to the African continent, and to Bloemfontein, "The City of Roses," (although Brenton, our violist says that Tyler, where he's from in Texas, is the "Rose capital of the US" so maybe he has the most experience with the roses...) Honestly I'm not sure what hour it is.  All my mechanical devices say something different. It feels like Amsterdam - light colored buildings, lots of English, and nothing too tall, as if it's all kind of in miniature. And the language I've never heard before sounds strangely familiar....Dutch like. 

We entered the small puddle-jumper aircraft that would bring us from Jo'burg (the diminutive of "Johannesburg" that I learned from the sailor in row 42 during the previous 15 hour flight) to Bloemfontein, and we began to realize, as Caitlin, our cellist, and Betsie, our manager, had to do the cello-is-not-allowed-explanation-thing for awhile, that there were quite lot of very tall men on the plane, and that furthermore they were all wearing the same navy and white striped polo, which, while a fine polo would have seemed unusual on two fellows at the same time, let alone several rows of fellows.  Of course, that realization took me personally awhile because I didn't know what time it was even then, and I am always loaded down with way too many pounds in my carry-on and a violin that can't find an overhead for itself.  Anyway.  Finally, I did start to notice the team mentality when some of them started shouting "let's go" and "leave the guitar alone" as the cello negotiations delayed things, and I started having flashbacks to when I saw one of those high school buses fly by with slightly overzealous lacrosse players making quite a racket, and as I was never very sports oriented, I guess I never gave the hullabaloo much thought, until I saw something similar on this tiny aircraft in middle of South Africa.

So when we were about to get out in Bloemfontein, and we were unloading our funny shaped luggage cases and bags, one of the guys asked what we played, and I said we were a string quartet and that's two violins, viola and a cello (obviously) and they asked us if we had any shows in Bloemfontein and we had to ask each other because we just couldn't remember exactly what was going on (jet lag.)  But then we eventually said no, since we're not playing any actual "shows" until Durban.  So we thought that was the end of the team.  And on the van ride to the hotel, which ended up being a beautiful space with back doors in every room overlooking the pool and courtyard, we tried to figure out what sport they must play, and our consensus came to rugby since they, who must have numbered at least 20, all weighed at least three times my weight and towered over me at least a foot each.

So you can imagine our surprise when the rugby team's tour bus took a slow right, just in front of us, directly into our hotel driveway, and entered our hotel, one car in front of us.  And the huge party made quite a scene unloading huge bags and huge suitcases, and the lobby was a mess, with rugby-ers eating tiny melon balls on sticks that had been laid out for arriving guests, and drinking the tiniest hot chocolates in espresso cups that you've ever seen - even more so when the giants were sipping them - everybody bumping into everybody else - and the clerks at the desk telling us that the rugby-ers don't really sleep...ever...but they all seemed jolly enough, and after much miscommunication we all ended up in our sweet little rooms.  Tomorrow - Haydn D Major and meeting the Bochabela String Orchestra.  Tonight - at dinner we met the wonderful David Plylar, who told us everything we need to know for now about getting around Bloemfontein.  For now!

And, as Angie earnestly pointed out, the water does drain backwards here.  It is not a myth-I saw it.  But they also drive the other way, too.


  1. Loved it! Sounds like so much fun!! Say hi to everyone.
    Here all is OK, no baby yet.....
    Many hugs,

  2. Congratulations on getting to SA safely. Sounds like you are off to a great start for a great trip! Best to all, Billy