Sunday December 14 - Tuesday December 16: Homeward bound
Bags packed, 32 people organized for the last time and we were off to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Everyone was quiet knowing that the last two years of work was drawing to a close. There is always a sense of sadness at the end of such a tour but I was happy to be going home. I felt very satisfied with what we had achieved and I pondered on it all.
As we drew closer to our destination, we had a minor scare initially as the driver did not know which terminal we were to go to and, as the group was splitting, the possibility of leaving from different terminals was all rather daunting. However the lovely lady at the hotel rang the airport and with great luck both groups would depart from Terminal one. A lapse of concentration Jules!
WE split to check in and as both groups were in very different parts of the airport it was time to divide the 32 members of the CS family. This was hard. The two schools had become one and it was also time to say goodbye to Donna, Flo and Chloe who would stay on in Europe. Genuine friendships had formed and splitting our 32 seemed cruel. However time to cut and not prolong the anxiety. Goodbye Turkey people.
Our long haul home was one I was dreading as the first bit was a flight of 13 hours from Paris to Singapore landing at 7.30 am and then we would have to wait until 11.50pm for the Adelaide connection. Oh how I hoped we would be able to get rooms in the transit hotel. Mal and I had tried unsuccessfully to book them over the internet in Paris as the internet gods were grumpy and it didn't happen. It would be pot luck if there were rooms available. However that was just the beginning of the final saga. A few hours into the flight and one of the students became very ill. Stacy was shivering, had a fever and was quite distressed. The cabin crew however, was superb. There was a call for a doctor on the flight but no one responded. So the head steward rang Singapore while we were mid flight and spoke to a doctor on the ground. Instructions were given and checks made of Stacey every half hour. Her fever came down but she was not well. Sleep did not happen on that 13 hour flight and when we landed the ground staff was ready with a wheel chair. We made our way to the medical centre where a doctor attended. I was so impressed with every response that Singapore Airlines made. They are a class act. Next bit was crazy....Paul left his wallet on the plane, Steph lost her passport and Chloe a credit card. The wheels seemed to be falling off! All were retrieved and it was with great relief I sent them all off to their nine rooms in the transit hotel. Phew! I caught four hours sleep and felt like a new person. Showers were long and hot and soon it was time to check out. The few hours from 8.30 pm to 11 .30pm soon went and then it was time to complete our final leg home. What an ending. Everyone was worn out. Tuesday morning which felt like Sunday afternoon somewhere, was with us and the hugs and kisses of family and friends covered all of us. Ian Tooley was there to greet the group home...thanks Ian .A nice gesture. One last group hug and off we went back to our normal lives. Connecting Spirits 2008 had come to an end in one sense, but in many others, was just the beginning of the next stage.
And so to our loyal readers: I hope you have enjoyed our daily blog and that we have captured some of the precious moments we have been lucky enough to experience.
Stay with our website as Mal and I will add, modify and adjust it over the next few weeks and months. Our CS family will add more comments and reflections over time so our daily blog may be in place but it will grow and develop with time. Thank you for joining us in the trip of a lifetime and to the students of Birdwood and Meningie who will think about the 2010 trip. Maybe YOU could be on that plane in November 2010? If you are keen send me an email via the contact on the website. And one last word (for the moment) if you would like to send us some feedback either as an observer or as a member of the CS team, please do so.
Over and out....Julie Reece and Mal Jurgs(Connecting Spirits Leaders 2006 - 2008 -- 2010????)