All entries for Thursday 23 December 2004

December 23, 2004

Barbados (Friday evening and Saturday)

We swam off the JR grease with some good games of Ianball (sounded more appealing than having something to eat and drink), and got ready for an improvised trip to a local church.

The church service was great – lots of singing halleluiah, and a brilliant drama showing the problems in the Carribean – and it wasn't too hot with all fans working and some more rain outside. Yet, the evening turned out a disaster with half of us (nearly) fainting. The lack of proper food during the week (yes we had snacks and bites, but hardly a substantial dinner) in combination with sunburn, lack of water, and balance issues (from the Jolly Roger), the first one of us passed out during the service, and by the end some 5 girls were being nursed by Josie (one of the Ribits folks who fortunately stayed around!) near a huge fan.

We stayed at the church for an hour or so – presumably waiting for the girls to feel better – and got served more water and some food. Ready to leave, I suddenly found out the situation was far worse than 'just' exhaustion: an ambulance had been called for one girl had stopped breathing and another felt needles throughout her body (won't go too much into details as I don't think it's necessary, and I guess you can understand the seriousness of the situation). With the rest of us in the church's bus to bring us back to the hotel, we got worried and slowly one by one the domino effect kicked in, and almost all either freaked out or started to feel faint. Not all passed out, because that would be silly, and really unfortunate, but some (including the wonderful people from the church) stayed calm and again provided us with water and food and this time prayer as well.

The craziness didn't end there, for as soon as we got back to the hotel, and we had to tell those who hadn't come along to the church what was going on, we slowly started freaking out again. A hotel is fortunately a better place to calm down, and soon one of our rooms was turned into a ward. It must be said that by this time, some of the guys had passed out as well, and I had to sit down myself (even started undressing – apologies to any witnesses, it was really hot!) because of heavy sunburn. The rest of night we devoured all ice cubes available in the hotel and some good mac'n cheese and bananas (thank you 'nurse' Esther and 'nurse' Melody, and Amanda and Abi as well for dedicating your appartment to us 'patients'). I don't like bananas, but this one was finished in no time! I still can't imagine what the situation must have looked like for those arriving later… After 2 hours Chrisi dropped by again and dismissed me from the 'ward'. She was also able to tell us that the two girls in the hospital were both stable, so we were ready to take a rest.

Saturday was dominated by err drinking as much water as possible (peed 4 times in 2 hours or so!) and eating as well. The girls had returned early in the morning and were being taken care of by their friends (basically forcing them to eat and drink and rest as much as possible). We all felt OK enough for our flight, but once our trip back to the UK started, we seemed to start a re-run of last night's drama. Fortunately, Josie (who is actually officially a nurse) was still around to help out and make everyone feel better, and we all spent our last Bajan dollars on water so that there would never be a shortage! The flight was fine (I basically slept through all the turbulence over the Atlantic – some had to stay awake most of the time for the second night in a row however, to stand by in case any more treatment was needed) and by Sunday morning we were back at Manchester Airport, arriving at Warwick in the afternoon, within a few hours all cooled down from our hot bizarre trip to Barbados.

As far as I know, everyone who went on the trip is still breathing, and ready and tanned to celebrate Christmas. Josie caught up on her lack of sleep within 3 days. I didn't suffer from a jet lag despite a sleepless night - that one was due to my first cup of coffee ever. My house is up to temperature after I'd told my housemate to turn off regulated heating hoping to save some pounds (I had to wear scarf and hat in my living room). Watching Dutch version of Popstars right now as the losers (those evicted in the early stages) are ruining 'Winter Wonderland', good to be home...

Barbados (Friday morning and afternoon)

Just realized I promised some to finish the Barbados stuff by Christmas, so I thought I might as well do the last entry now!

Got up early on Friday for an official picture of the choir on the beach. Everyone in their concert top (bottom clothing was optional/own choice) looked good and surprisingly awake! While were at it, we did some more photo shoots on the beach (looking forward to Ian's pictures!) and slowly got excited about our last event of the week: the Jolly Roger!

Included in our whole 'Yo! We're going to Barbados!'-package was a trip on the Jolly Roger: a 'pirate' ship with plenty of rum punch and lots of partying! As soon as we got on board the rum punch started flowing freely, but when we started sailing I decided to stick to the err non-alcoholic fruit punch.

The ride was a lot of fun: continuous dancing on Bajan beats, applying sunscreen, getting more drinks (though stupid me forgot that part!), and getting sunburnt (more stupidity, I know). The ship stopped for us to go to the beach/have a swim around the boat/do some snorkelling. Since we were planning to go snorkelling the next day anyway, and I didn't really feel like jumping from the ship, the idea of exploring another beach than the one at the hotel seemed good to me.

I only needed to put one foot on the nice crispy sand and it started raining cats and dogs (using the English expression as it soon turned out to be cold 'UK rain' – quoting Phil). Since we were getting wet we thought we might as well run into the sea. This brought us the odd sensation of being warm under water with our heads in the cold rain. Obviously, as soon as the carrier came to bring us back to the ship, the rain stopped.

Back on the Jolly Roger, everyone laid out their stuff to dry (it was extremely penetrating for 'UK rain'), and dinner was served! I safely went for chicken and added all the extras (even vegetables)! The meal was very welcome after the rain and was nicely accompanied by some good old Bob (Marley, not Dylan, sorry Rick!). Afterwards, those who wanted had some time to enjoy swinging off the ship from a rope/get forced off the JR from the plank. With everyone back on board, we set sail for Bridgetown, our starting point, and got some lessons in Bajan dancing (left, right, up, down, that kind of stuff), partying till the end.

Back at the hotel we were pleasantly surprised to find some of the Ribits people still there. They were supposed to leave for England on Friday but their flight was cancelled, and there wasn't enough space on the next flight for all of them. I have never seen people so happy to miss a flight, but then again, they were on Barbados.

Barbados (Thursday)

Can't really remember what I did Thursday morning, but I guess I slept in a bit and played some Ianball. While others went to Bridgetown or for a big lunch at a pub at the beach, I decided once more to listen to the Ribits choir rehearse - this time with 'band'!

Thursday, concert day! The concert was supposed to be our main event – the Ribits choir had already had two performances, one of which was in front of 2000 people (!) in a mini festival with proper gospel choirs from the West Indies. Therefore, everyone was excited as this was what we'd been rehearsing for all term!

I lost track of time during the evening, but it turned out to be as bizarre as I promised earlier. I think we were supposed to start at 8, leaving one hour for sound check for 2 choirs and a band – ah well, we're in Barbados! Eventually, the Ribits choir started their (reduced) set at I believe half eight with 'Eyes on the Prize'. Even though they'd only met for the first time on Saturday and only had 2 or 3 rehearsals since then, and even though Chris wasn't allowed by the 'technicians' to balance the mics and all, they sounded great, and I grooved happily along!

Now, as soon as they were finished, we (the Warwick Revelation choir) took their place on stage and we could see the turn up. Had to look hard though – apart from the 40 people in the Ribits choir, and the 10 people from the Miraclettes (gospel choir that would perform this night as well), there were only 2 people – 2 girls I think I recognized from one of the schools we'd visited – but they left before we started our set (as it was already 9pm). So basically no audience coming especially to see us. But well, we're in Barbados!

Since there was still going to be a DVD on the tour and the concert, and we had worked hard for this moment last term, we decided to enjoy the moment for what it's worth. Didn't need too much to enjoy for the Ribits folks already started grooving once they recognized the chorus for 'Sign me up!'. Again, singin put a smile on my face, and with some encouraging words from Steph I never stopped singing (apart from when I realized I might need my voice later on in life and I noticed that Shaun was loud enough to sing for 2 – got some good complementary singing going on in the tenor section!) and thus smiling.

The response was great, and with a grand finale of joint singing with the Ribits choir ('My Redeemer Lives') it seemed as if most troubles of the week for forgotten. It didn't take away the disappointment, but I'm sure the DVD will look good! It was too late for the Miraclettes to perform as well, but as a nice 'dessert' (though I hadn't had any food for hours) they gave an instant workshop leaving us in awe and with loads of inspiration. I was sitting in another room snacking from some cake and thought it was a CD playing – such quality and powerful voices they have!

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