Dr. Eric Conway writes:
Today, Friday, June 2, we left for home. We were excited to come back to our family and friends, but knew that we would miss seeing and tasting the culture of both Spain and Portugal. This morning we would receive a wake-up call at 3AM. We were to have our bags down to the lobby by 4AM and all be on the bus by 4:30. The Lisbon airport was less than fifteen minutes from the hotel. When we arrived, it was so early that there was no group check-in counter so we all had to individually check in. Our itinerary for the day was through the Madrid, Boston, and Washington airports, and finally an hour and half drive to Baltimore. All in all we were to have an itinerary that would span over twenty-four hours of travel. This day of travel is often the most difficult given that we will get back the six hours lost over traveling over the six time zones, thus a thirty-hour day!
When we returned to Spain via the Madrid airport layover, although it was not home, it felt very familiar and comfortable. No one on the tour spoke Portuguese, but many spoke Spanish, especially given the high number of Spanish speakers in the United States. We had just a three hour layover in Madrid before departing for Boston. The time in the air from Madrid to Boston was over seven and one half hours. The question was whether to try to stay up all day and quickly return to Eastern Standard Time or sleep during the flight, and perhaps have one's sleep pattern off for weeks due to confusing your natural circadian rhythm. Most slept on the first two legs of our itinerary because of not going to sleep at all during the previous night, hoping not to oversleep and possibly delay the group.
We arrived into Boston ahead of time at 2:30 PM. Everything was going perfectly according to plan when everything came to a screeching halt! After walking for several minutes around the Boston airport, we discovered that our flight was cancelled due to engine problems. Many were disappointed that their arrival home would be delayed at least by a couple of hours, but I had a different perspective. I believed that we were fortunate that the airline discovered the engine issues before getting in the air! One observation during this tour was that every airline that we have flown throughout the tour was on time! The one time that we fly domestic (American Airlines) we have an issue with a cancellation. Half of our group had to fly home at 7PM rather than 5PM and the other half at 8PM. One consolation was the airline gave everyone in the group a twelve dollar voucher for dinner at the airport for any inconvenience caused - which was the very least that they could do.
After adjusting the bus schedule to pick us up after the second group arrived which was around 9:47 PM. We all left Ronald Reagan International in Washington, DC and are scheduled to arrive at Murphy Fine Arts Center at 11:30 PM.
Yes, what an amazing tour of Spain and Portugal we have had in the past weeks. We did not have even one day with any weather or forecast that suggested precipitation. The temperatures were above average, allowing us to wear clothing that was much lighter than we originally expected. The food was very good - the Spanish are internationally known as having excellent food and wine. We learned the very important role of pork in the Spanish diet. Portugal’s fish industry strongly influenced their array of fresh seafood dishes that we experienced.
The people generally treated us African Americans with tolerance and understanding. We felt that there was never a sense of being different perhaps because of the color of our skin. The local people were very warm to us, wanting for us to return to their respective countries. Many of us said that if we had the resources, we would return now having a strong overview of the country and culture.
Historically, we learned much about these two cultures, that will certainly contribute to our overall education and make us even more tolerant of differences between people. It is one thing to read history in textbooks, but to see, and walk through history as we did, will leave an indelible impression in our minds.
I believe that our collective mission of sharing Morgan choir's music with new audiences was accomplished in such a mighty way the region will absolutely NEVER forget the sounds of the Morgan State University Choir. Much in vogue today is the phenomenon of taking a photograph with an artist immediately after a performance, done much more today because of the ease of taking quality photos with our phones. We took so many photos with the local people of Spain and Portugal, that we know that these photos will displayed in local homes or Facebook pages for generations to come. We will never forget Spain or Portugal and hope that they will never forget the Morgan State University Choir!
Eric Conway, DMA
Morgan State University Choir, Director