News from on top of the world

ImageAfter commuting to work yesterday by plane, I rode from the airstrip to the school in a giant sled pulled by a snow machine (and I mean a GIANT sled--there were three adults with all our baggage in there)! I completed my first day of speech-language therapy in Ambler, Alaska. It's a sweet little town where "everybody knows your name," and perhaps a bit more than just that. As I walked around a bit of the village, people greeted others by name and knew that I didn't live here just because they didn't know me.

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The kids were fun to work with--lots of smiles. My favorite moments during school yesterday were (1) When a girl was describing a picture to me and said, "the boy is about to 'kutuk'." After asking her, "what is 'kutuk?", she looked at me as if I were crazy and gestured "fall down" and her facial expression said, "duh." (2) The posters around the school are different than those I remember seeing as a student (you know the type, "there's no 'i' in team"). One reads "if we don't lead the way, who will?" and another, "respect our elders." (3) During my first treatment, a student interrupted me and said "would you like to buy a birch bark woven basket?" to which I replied, "that sounds nice. I don't have a lot of room in my bag, though. Do you make them?" She explained that her mother makes the baskets. At the end of the school day, I had a call on line 1. I answered and the girl's mother had called to see if I wanted a basket.

image When I checked in at DIA, I checked one bag with almost everything I was taking: food, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, groceries, etc. That bag didn't make my last flight from Anchorage to Kotzebue because the plane was overweight so they left mine and 40 other bags behind. After a series of events, it is now Tuesday morning and I still haven't seen my bag. They apparently flew it to Kotz but forgot to unload it. So when it arrived in Nome, Alaska (the next stop) they send it back to Anchorage as no one was there to claim it. It's supposed to return to Kotz this morning where it will be sent to the village where I will be later today! All that to say, I've been wearing the same clothes and without toiletries since 2 a.m. Sunday. But, last night the special ed director in Kotz flew me a bag full of food, toiletries, and clothes--I'm so thankful we're the same size! Of the treasures in the bag are packets of instant Starbucks coffee (Hallelujah!) and approximately six Snickers bars! Well, off to get caffeinated…

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Adventure for a Baggins

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I was a bit nervous to go out on an adventure by myself this morning but the weather was great and I knew I'd have regrets if I stayed tucked away at home. I realized part-way through the hike, I was a bit like Bilbo before his adventure in The Hobbit: "People considered [Bilbo's family, the Baggins] very respectable...because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him."

So, I reluctantly climbed into the car and drove to a recommended trailhead. I've never hiked by myself and I don't know the area nor local wildlife, thus my hesitation. Honestly, I was imagining some type of wolfman or oversized moose behind every large tree for the first mile or so.

On my mini hiking adventure I was reminded of a time when I was suddenly "stuck" in beautiful Cusco, Peru by myself: with elevated heart rate and heightened senses, I began timidly exploring the ancient city and eventually warmed up to discovering local treasures--sometimes off the beaten path. Today, stretching past my comfort zone, I felt a cautious yet bold independence I don't remember experiencing since visiting Cusco. It was liberating--the best Saturday I've had in a while.

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