Communion Of Dreams


Scenes from a trip: well, so much for *that* plan.
November 19, 2011, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Health, Music, N. Am. Welsh Choir, New Zealand, Travel

The clouds of morning brought rain and grey, dulling the view out the bus windows as we headed south.

But that turned out to be the least of our troubles…

* * * * * * *

So, we got up, had breakfast, lugged our bags down to the bus. The idea was that we would drive south to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, with stops at several points along the way to do some sight-seeing. This in particular was to include Lake Taupo and the surrounding area, including the Huka Falls, then on to a luxurious lunch at a winery before rolling into Wellington late afternoon.

That was the theory.

Things started going wrong when we discovered that we were one person short on the bus. A quick check found that one member of the group, an elderly woman who was a friend and supporter of the choir, was still in her room. She had gone off with family in Rotorua after the concert the day before, so had missed the discussion we’d had about plans for this morning. But she was also not feeling well, and was showing signs of confusion as they got her settled on the bus.

* * * * * * *

We were running a bit late due to the aforementioned delay and then the condition of the roads as we wound through the mountains of the central north island. Helen, our guide, tried to interest the choir and get everyone to relax with a series of CDs of local music played over the bus’s sound system. This included a bunch of what she characterized as “older folk-music” (stuff from the 1950s). Here’s how I characterized it on facebook:

…we’re talking about the Kiwi version of “Battle of New Orleans” and similar faux-Western or hillbilly stuff.

The horror, the horror . . .

I put in ear plugs. Then my noise-canceling headphones. Then I started wondering how hard it would be to break into the bus that evening and disable the sound system.

* * * * * * *

We stopped at Huka Falls. It was gorgeous:

and

* * * * * * *

After a stop at the nearby gift shop for snacks and postcards, we all started to pile back onto the bus.

But the elderly woman I mentioned earlier was feeling a little shaky, needed help walking back to the bus. Ron, one of the choristers, who is also a ICU nurse (and the choir’s unofficial medic when they tour), got her settled in her seat and then did an assessment of her vitals. He consulted with another chorister who is a medical professional. Together, they decided that the woman needed urgent medical attention.

We headed into the nearby town of Taupo, where there was a hospital.

* * * * * * *

It was a good decision, and probably saved the woman’s life. It turned out that she had pneumonia – a significant danger for anyone who is elderly.

We spent about 90 minutes at the hospital, as she was checked out and her condition determined. As noted, she had family who were in Rotorua, but my friend ML was tapped to stay with her until they were contacted and able to come see to the woman’s care. Why her? She’s smart, a lawyer, has a great deal of experience traveling and dealing with legal systems around the world, and wasn’t a chorister – meaning that she could miss part of the tour if necessary, and not hurt the make-up of the choir. She’s also stubborn enough to stand up to any bureaucratic problems which might occur, not to mention dealing with a cantankerous elderly woman who was more than a little certain that she didn’t need such medical fuss.

We got back on the road. Helen had contacted the winery where we had been scheduled to lunch, let them know we had a medical emergency which had messed up our plans. Once we were out of town she contacted them again, and sorted out rescheduling.

* * * * * * *

The bad news was that the rehearsal which had been scheduled for that evening with the Wellington male Voice Choir had to be canceled, because we were going to run too late to be able to use the reserved space.

The good news was that the weather cleared, and we’d be able to have a relaxed, but late, lunch after all. It wasn’t necessary to try and get through quickly.

The good news for most, that is. For Martha and I, it also meant we had to cancel our evening plans to get together with another person involved in the shooting sports, as well as her family and some friends from Wales. A shame.

* * * * * * *

We had lunch at the Mission Estate Winery in the Hawkes Bay area. It was delicious, both in terms of the quality of the food & wine, as well as in terms of the location & view.

Afterward, the choir gathered down the hill from the site of the winery, at a natural amphitheater which has been the location of many famous concerts. On this occasion the only audience were those of us traveling with them. Well, and a field of sheep.

I think we all enjoyed it. I did. The sheep seemed to. Hard to say.

* * * * * * *

We had given Martha’s phone to ML – our texting plan allowed us easy communication between the two phones, even overseas. She let us know that the family of the elderly woman had arrived and taken over seeing to her needs. She was going to require hospital care for at least several days. ML would catch the next flight to Wellington, and beat us there.

I almost envied her, not having to listen to more folk music.

* * * * * * *

We rolled into Wellington that evening. Our hotel was the Rydges Wellington – a very nice accommodation right downtown.

We dropped our bags off, then met ML in the lobby to go to dinner. Because she had gotten in earlier, she’d had a chance to scope things out in the area, and recommended a nice Dutch-inspired pub (there is a significant Dutch component to New Zealand’s history) just down the street. Some light dinner and a couple of good local ales helped my mood considerably.

Jim Downey


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Good photos!

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