"Sounds Like Heaven"
Gospel Singing in Jamaica
Peter Dent, a recent arrival to Galiano Island, is a well known Muscian. He composes music, is an excellent Jazz Pianist, and is an accomplished choir conductor. Peter also conducts amateur choirs during travel tours, opportunities to travel and sightsee in other countries and participate in a choir. One of these tours was to Jamaica this January. Eleanor and I have been enjoying singing in two local choirs on Galiano Isand (one of them Peter's) so we decided to take a break from the cold weather and join in on the fun.
Saturday, January 8th dawned cold and windy with a fresh layer of wet snow on the ground. It would be beautiful if we didn't have to catch a plane to Jamaica. A cold low hovered off the west coast of Washington generating gale force South East winds which blew almost directly into the Sturdies Bay Ferry Terminal. The 9:30am morning sailing was canceled before we even got to the parking lot. The 11:30am boat actually made it into the dock but the swells were so bad they couldn't put the ramp down. The cold low was staying put and gale force winds were forecast for the rest of the day. Things were looking bad.
By now five of us were in serious need to leave the Island to make plane connections. I phoned the float plane company and they ensured us they were flying and could pick us up at 2pm. But at 1pm they called again, indicating the weather was closing in and the pilot would not have the required visibility.
We were getting rather anxious about getting off the island. At 2:00 pm we called our local taxi and started on a scary slippery taxi ride across the island to Montague Harbour. There we climbed aboard the "Ganges Hawk", a sturdy water taxi for a very wet ride over to Swartz Bay on the Vancouver Island side.
Monday morning, 24 hours later, we were at our first rehearsal at the Sandcastle Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. (note the bare feet).
We spent 3 hours daily in rehearsal for 5 days and finished with a performance in Ocho Rios on Friday night and a performance at the School of Music in Kingston on Saturday.
There was ample time to soak up the sun and visit the local tourist attractions.
Ocho Rios is a small Jamaican town and also a cruise ship destination.. At times two gigantic cruise ships would be in port at the same time. A major attraction is the nearby Dunn's River Falls where groups climb up the falls and play in the warm water.
Other attractions included the Mahogany Beach snorkeling area, a tour to Noel Coward's home, an extensive visit to a local coconut plantation with stops along the way to visit attractions like the James Bond Beach. And in Kingston we toured Bob Marley's home.
Gospel Music is joyful music. It is a lot of fun and there were opportunities for many of us to take solo parts.
Final performance at the School of Music in Kingston.
It was a great way to take a break in the sun. Afterwards Eleanor and I retired for a few days to Negril Beach, about a four hour drive from Ocho Rios, to walk the seven mile beach and view it's well known sunsets.
For more information about "singing vacations" visit Peter's web site at www.peterdent.com .
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