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Published: November 8th 2010
When I left Africa to move back to the US and “settle down” my biggest fear was that I would lose the adventure and my life would somehow become routine. Thanks to God that has not happened, not even close! I am so blessed to have an exciting job that keeps me out in the field learning new things and feeling like I am really meeting people and making a difference. It may be a partial desk job but the excitement I get from visiting sites more than makes up for the 8-4 computer time I put in during normal weeks. Most days I thank God for my job but when it gets really fun like yesterday when I was clutching my “sic sac” while flying through whiteout conditions to reach the remote island of St. Lawrence I just have to laugh. There is nothing boring about my life! In typical fashion yesterday when I left Anchorage I was delayed on both the flight out of Anchorage and the flight out of Nome. One for mechanical issues and one for weather delays. Flying into Nome I got my first glimpse of Alaskan winter outside of the Anchorage Mat-Su area. I think
windblown could sum it up pretty well! It was actually a beautiful sunny day in Nome and as I sat inside the one room “airport” looking outside the window it looked a bit like a treeless winter wonderland. It was when the pilot finally decided to “go for it” despite the bad conditions on the island and I walked outside to the plane that reality hit, it was cold! I had an interesting flight into Gambell then Savoonga where I wondered how on earth the pilot could land this plane safely on the ground when while we were in the air we were being tossed around like a little tin can. Thankfully the pilot’s skills far outweighed my faith in them! Arriving in Savoonga I bundled up as best I could but when I stepped out of the plane the wind and cold completely disorientated me. It was beyond anything I have ever felt. After grabbing my bags from the cargo hold the maintenance man for the Head Start site helped me onto a four wheeler and off we went. I didn’t see much as we drove to the site as I was trying to tuck my head down yet
still hold onto the four wheeler and my bags, but I did have to laugh when he leaned back and yelled “Welcome to the Bahamas” …it’s just too darn bad I forgot my suit!
I was then dropped off at the head start center where I got out my sleeping bag, made some dinner and watched movies on my laptop for the rest of a very un-restful night. Sleeping alone on the floor of an empty schoolhouse was not exactly comfortable on the first night, and the second night I was visted by some boys eager to harass the visitor.
I woke up my first morning to a very dedicated teacher coming in to work at 630am. Yes 6:30. I greeted her in my half asleep stupor and then went to search for the shower I heard this site boasted. Unfortunately cold water was all I could find so I splashed my face and went back to say good morning in a slightly more human tone. The brightside of my morning was when I found the coffee maker! Thank goodness for caffeine. My first day with the kids went well, they were very excited to meet and play with
me and I was able to get a lot done in the office. I had some good laughs when I realized they were “pull starting” their tricycles as they would a 4 wheeler.
That night I got tired of staying inside and decided to brave the outdoors for a little walk. I managed to make it down to the beach but it took a significant amount of time because when the wind gusted it was all I could do to stay upright! My third day I finally asked how to work the hot water and was given a not so optimistic answer so one of the teachers took pity on me and took me back to her place to shower. It was really nice to walk through the village and see the store and post office and such. The store was larger than I thought it would be but only had about 4 apples and the rest was frozen and canned food. I ended up staying the next couple nights at the teacher’s house with her and her roommate and sleeping on their couch. It was a really a luxury to have home cooked meals and a warm shower at
the end of the day! The rest of the week was very busy yet productive and thankfully I was able to fly out on Friday. It was dark when I flew out because due to the islands location the sun doesn’t rise this time of year until 12pm and sets around 730. We had another rough flight out to Gambell and I was delayed again in Nome but this seems to be the norm. I did finally make it home and I am very happy I was able to go out to the island and see more of their way of life. Sorry my photos are nothing special, it was whiteout conditions most of the time and so not much to take photos of!
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