Well, we have come to the last day of our Australian tour, a travel day back to the good old U. S. of A.
The plane was to leave at 7:30 AM, however two choir members were still in the bed at 7:30. This delayed us about 25 minutes, which was not a great start to the day. We had a similar group check in that we had going to Melbourne, however, the check-in was based on a strict schedule. We barely made it. Every bag made it safely on board. To put into perspective, we had a group of 35 arrive for an international flight under one hour before departure. Whew! We could have still been in Melbourne, Australia, however, I believe that this was the good favor that we have had during every step of this journey.
We said our final good-byes to Udo Jungmann, who was an exceptional tour guide. When we first saw Udo, we believed that he was an Australian; however, he is from Germany. English was his second language. He spoke English remarkably well, without any German accent, but an assimilated Australian accent. We will miss Udo for his calm resolve and sense of humor.
To give you a sense of the timing of our day, when we departed for Australia on June 10, we lost 14 hours of our lives due to flying against the world time zones. Today, we regained those 14 hours. In other words, today we had ourselves a 38 (24+14) hour day. We left our hotel at 7:30 AM on Friday, which was 5:30 PM Thursday morning Eastern Standard Daylight Savings Time. Our flight from Melbourne to Sydney was a short one hour. Our flight from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth was an exhausting15 hours. Our flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to BWI was 3 hours. We arrived in Baltimore at 8:45 PM. All in all, we had over 27 hours of travel time.
I wish that I could say that no one lost any luggage, but alas, it was not until BWI, the last leg of our journey, did a choir member lose any luggage. Qantas fulfilled their contract by delivering the luggage to the Texas airport. However, after reclaiming luggage after international customs declaration, and resubmitting to baggage claim through American airlines, one choir member’s luggage did not make it – and it was HOT PINK! I am sure that the airline will deliver tomorrow.
It felt so very good to arrive at BWI. We felt a sense of pride as we walked through the airport, glancing at a marketing piece for the university – Experience
Morgan State University: Growing the Future, Leading the World!
What a grand tour this has been to Australia! Many who have travelled on other trips with the choir said that this was the best, the best on so many levels. The shadow group who paid to accompany the choir said that they would travel with the choir again, in a heartbeat! The accommodations and included meals were first-rate. The tours taken to major sites were informative and interesting. And most importantly, the choir sang well and made a lasting impression on Australia. Through every concert, there were always several persons in tears. Andrew Wailes, the director of the Melbourne University Choral Society, told me that he has never cried as much as he did when he heard our group sing the Battle Hymn! What a strong message we bring to the world when we travel. In the best Fisk Jubilee Singers tradition, Morgan is carrying our message to the world in song. We believe that we are truly Baltimore’s, Maryland’s and the United States’ best Ambassadors. As the Melbourne theme for our joint concert so appropriately proclaimed, we “Let the Light Shine!”
Signing off Alla Aussie ease,