After all those months of fundraising - hosting tea parties, pop-up cafes and garage sales - me and my girl were finally off on our Hawaiian adventure with her Cheerleading team, to compete at the inaugural Global Dance and Cheer Games.
Here we are at the airport on the night we flew out, excited as can be...
(That little guy in his PJ's is just excited for us. He didn't get to come, much as he would've loved to.)
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel was inundated with cheerleaders from all over the world. Yes, you heard me, the accomodation package had us all roughing it at the flipping Hilton on Waikiki Beach (because the people who run these things think we parents are made of money, and we couldn't possibly stay in anything less than 4 star, right???)
Moving along - and making the most of it - it was lovely.
We had booked an "ocean view room" and discovered that while half of our view was indeed the glorious ocean, the other half was filled with a new tower under construction, with the hammering and drilling sound track starting at 6am.
I figured I could use this to my advantage and complained very nicely and got the Resort Charge package thrown in for free - including the all-important free WiFi. My girl was very proud of me for that one. (They also eventually moved us into a new room; the staff were very helpful).
On site at the Hilton were umpteen restaurants and bars (and even a Starbucks or two), a plethora of swimming pools and the golden sands of Waikiki Beach right there on our doorstep.
We were regulars at Starbucks, and my girl fell in love with cinnabuns, which we had almost every morning for brekky, I'm ashamed to admit.
Ignore my earlier complaining about having to pay for a luxury hotel on a sports trip - it was bloddy worth it. As more and more cheerleaders arrived, they took over every pool, stunting in the water and on the beach itself. My girl was in seventh heaven.
The trip itself was fabulous for meeting and making friends with the other team mums. You can't put a price on the value of spending a whole week away together. There had never been a proper chance to get know the other mums (and the girls) in the regular rush of pickups and dropoffs, but hanging out poolside together, shopping, having a drink in the evening and then cheering on our girls together did wonders for our team spirit IMHO. People I'd previously only said *hi* to in passing, became friends on this trip.
Of course there was plenty of shopping - most notably a mad dash one morning before round two of the comp to Victoria's Secret, who were having an epic sale. We scored bargains galore, and were very pleased with our haul. The Hilton is right in the middle of Waikiki so we found ourselves walking everywhere - which was just as well, as Hawaiian (AKA American) food comes in giant portions!
After all that walking and shopping and eating and poolside relaxation, it was time for some action: The Competition had finally arrived.
First the team walked to the convention centre for a run-through....
Then back to the hotel for the Opening Ceremony....
As well as New Zealand, there were teams competing from USA, Japan, China, Mexico and an endless stream of Aussies. Endless, I tell ya. I think there were more Aussies there than all the rest of the teams combined - they just kept coming and coming.
The (slightly lame) MC was a kiwi actor who looked vaguely familiar and whose claim to fame "yes that's right, kids!" was that he was once on Shortland Street. Cringe. Not sure how he got the gig. He must have been related to someone I think - Mark Somebody?
Anyhoo it all finished off with a nice bang, fireworks over the lagoon (a real visual feast). Too bad I couldn't enjoy it cos I'd lost my girl and her buddies in the crowd and was madly hunting up and down the darkened shores of the lagoon, trying to spot that precious needle in a haystack of cheerleaders.
Don't worry we found her, eventually. The perils of travelling with an over-confident tween; no sense of panic when she can't see her mum. Dang it. Have I raised her to be too independent?!
Where were we?
Oh yes. Competition Time.
... teasing and hairspray and makeup and glitter at every turn, until it's finally the moment of truth...
Two rounds of competition over two days. Our division was the toughest one in the compeition - Level Two Junior with eight VERY good teams. Our girls rocked it, bringing all the sass and energy they had in them. They left it all out there on the floor... and came away with fourth place, by only 0.2 of a mark. There was less than a full point between first and fourth. Incredibly tight.
The girls did themselves proud, even if they came away without a medal.
They were winners in the eyes of their very proud mamas, that's for sure.
(And then they came home to New Zealand and took out gold at the National Champs two weeks later. Woop.)
After that, it was time to head home to New Zealand. Pack up our bags, squeeze all our bargains from WalMart, Ross Dress For Less, Walgreens and Victoria's Secret into our suitcases and wave goodbye to the lovely Hawaiian weather. Where it is always blue sky and waving palm trees, but where rain sometimes sprinkles strangely down out of a clear blue sky (it's the weirdest thing).
Was it worth it, all that effort fundraising?
It was an amazing experience, getting to go to a beautiful place, just me and my girl. We'll never forget it.
Would I go again next year if they qualify again? Um, if I win Lotto, yeah sure. Why not?!
OTHER POSTS ON THIS TOPIC:
- Our Pop Up Garden Cafe Fundraiser
- Our Hawaii Fundraising Efforts
- Cheer Up - Why I love Cheerleading (in spite of myself)
- Other Travel Adventures