Dr. Eric Conway of Morgan State University in Baltimore writes:
Well, it is that time of the year again - the time when the Morgan State University choir will share our music with yet another part of the world! This year’s installment will we in the South American country of Argentina! We will tour most of the major cities in this country including Rosario, Córdoba, San Luiz, Puente del Inca, and finally to the capital city of Buenos Aires. We will perform in some of the finest and largest halls of the country. The tour group is a little smaller than in previous years. The group totals forty of which thirty are choir members and the remaining ten are either staff or those who chose to accompany the choir to this year’s destination. Included in this group are two Morgan State University Regents: Linda Gilliam and Frank Edmonds.
We were scheduled to leave at 7:45 AM to drive to the JFK International airport in New York. We departed from this New York airport to obtain a direct flight from US to Argentina. We did not miss the departure time mark by much, pulling away from the Murphy Fine Arts Center by a little after 8AM. Given the unpredictable nature of traveling on Interstate 95 to NYC, we allowed more time than usual to account for any probable traffic delays. Of course when one allows plenty of time, one typically has smooth sailing, which we did. After a generous rest stop on the way, we arrived at the JFK Airline terminal over three hours ahead of time. We flew on the Argentinian airline - Aerolineas Argentinas. Check-in went smoothly and quickly. The direct flight was approximately 10 1/2 hours. Many commented on how smooth the flight was, i.e. free from turbulence and one of the smoothest landings ever experienced. Upon arriving, we had the good fortune of everyone reconnecting with their luggage. Our Argentinian guide Hernan Zapiola was waiting at the gate with a smile to take us to our tour bus for the week. We were even impressed with the beautiful double-decker bus. The bus presented generous cabin room around the seats that almost-fully reclined if desired! This was an exceptional start to a tour where we would see much of Argentina from the road. Driving anywhere between four to eight hours between cities - Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and 2nd largest in South America!
We arrived at 4AM in Buenos Aires for a 4 hour drive to Rosario, the third largest city in Argentina. Rosario is a port city adjacent to the 2nd largest river in the country, the Rio Paraná, which begins in Brazil and opens in the Atlantic ocean. After arriving in Rosario we took a short walking tour of Rosario. We visited the Argentine Monument to the Creation of their national flag. I called this monument their version of our Fort McHenry. See attached a photo of their flag on a blue and white striped background with the sun in the middle with a smile. Like so very many memorials, a centerpiece of this monument was an eternal flame memorializing an unknown soldier who fought for their independence. We then walked through the city to get a sense of Rosario - loosely meaning the City of the Rosary. Being a predominately Catholic country, we could not tour a city without visiting a cathedral. After the tour, we checked in to a very nice but small hotel - Hotel Libertador. The hotel featured elevators so very small, we could barely get luggage and two adults in the cabin. More importantly, the hotel included free wi-fi access, which means the entire choir can connect with their families and friends. Oh, to not be connected! We will have an afternoon of rest prior to our first group/welcome meal in Argentina this evening at 8PM.
All in all this has been a fine day, with no drama. Our first performance will be tomorrow evening at at 8:30PM in one of the principal venues in this city, Teatro El Circulo. Hopefully we will have a good night sleep tonight, not having to adjust to a large time zone change - Argentina being only one time zone ahead of Eastern Daylight Savings Times.