25 May, 2007

I’m Kind Of A Big Deal or Blame It On The Bus Driver

So as usual I’m coming back after a longish absence. We’re running at warp speed these days and the blogs are suffering the consequences (as are Allison, Taylor, Sunny and I…). Anyhow, this past weekend Taylor and Allison stayed in Rijeka with the newly-arrived summer project team – they are all awesome, by the way – while Sunny and I traveled to Osijek for KristFest, a Christian music festival.

Sunny has been helping Andrej, a friend from church, with some of the organization of the festival over the past few months. She was planning to help out a bit over the weekend, and I was tagging along, excited to attend the festival and happy to be of service in whatever ways I could. Between preparing and putting on many events and retreats over the past few months, and getting ready for and greeting and briefing the summer project, we were pretty tired, and I for one was really excited about the refreshing prospect of a change of pace and environment over the weekend.

We had no idea what was coming. This is how it all went down:

Thursday night we had a pancake party with students that rocked on* past midnight. Sometime that evening we found out that our ride was meeting us at 6:30 the next morning, so when we left the apartment on Friday we were armed with tea, toothbrushes, 2-3 hours of sleep, and little else. The 2 hours spent driving to Zagreb were uneventful, then we were dropped off at the airport. We had been asked to meet a few bands there and ride with them on the bus to Osijek. No problem, we thought.

*I’m really sorry. I honestly don’t know why I use phrases like that. It doesn’t further my cause as a respectable human being or as a writer, but I just can’t seem to help it.

Once we got to the airport Sunny called and got a few more details about what we were doing there: i.e. a list of the groups we were supposed to meet and the times we were supposed to meet them.

The first group we met was the largest – a full-blown gospel choir. They wanted to go downtown and walk around and they showed us the email they had received telling them they could, but the bus driver said it was not possible in the amount of time we had, so we headed to another small town nearby. Already we noticed that most of the artists were very kind and gracious, while a few would have done well to have VIP emblazoned on their foreheads, lest anyone, anywhere, anytime make the mistake of thinking otherwise.

Our guests wandered the small park and marketplace while Sunny and I assessed the situation and realized we needed to get some food for these people. They were tired, a bit cranky, had no kuna, and were facing another 4+ hour bus ride. And there were still more passengers to pick up. We got 5 or 6 bunches of bananas, a small buttload of pastries, and 4 liters of juice and water and a pack of small plastic cups. Not world class, but it would have to do. We loaded up the bus again and headed back to the airport.

We checked the flight arrival times of the next 3 bands and realized we might have a problem. The choir group hadn’t been too hard to spot, because, let’s face it, 21 gospel singers with British accents and lots of bling tend to stand out at the Zagreb airport. This time, however, we only had band names, flight times, and knew we were looking for 3 groups of 5-7 people, all European. The arrival area was small and, by this point, crowded. I didn’t even know what language I should listen for or what countries they were flying in from. One of the groups needed to get on a van that was waiting for them and immediately book it to the festival since they were performing that night, while the other two bands would join us on the bus.

We constructed woefully inadequate signs by scribbling band names on random pieces of paper, and awkwardly tried to hold them all up at once while scouring the crowd for anything resembling an instrument case. For some reason it was taking everyone a really long time to get through customs so the flight arrival times ceased to be useful. Eventually Sunny and I separated and the sign holding was only complicated by simultaneous cell phone conversations and purse-digging/schedule reviewing sessions.

Somehow, in the end, we met all the people we were supposed to and got them into the proper vehicles. One of the new arrivals really wanted a bottle of cold water, so I ran back in and bought one, and almost got left behind by the bus. As I handed it to her, someone asked why I had gotten one for her but not for them. I don’t think they believed me when I said that I only had money for one. But it was the literal truth.

To be continued…


Slim said...

I suppose I would call into question the use of the term "buttload" before I would worry about "rocking on," but considering all you've been through I think most of us are willing to look past any slight grammatical anomalies. Musicians can be brilliant but they can also be so very clueless.

Krista said...

You deserve a vacation... Or a trip to Portland.