Thursday, November 03, 2005

In the air

When I first arrived in Alaska I went to a week long in-service which explained the different joys and experiences that new teachers should expect in the bush.
There was one phrase that was repeated many times that week.

Weather Permitting

Now, after the rigors of the past few weeks, I finally understand the full meaning of that phrase.

Today began a Writing Assessment workshop designed to grade the papers written by all the district’s students.

I was expecting to fly in yesterday.
Nothing ever happens as per carefully laid plans.

The rivers and lakes around my tiny island are gradually freezing to a mushy traversable solid. The airport, conveniently, is located across what once were waterways and a mile down river.

My flight was due.
I straddled the snow-go, behind one of the more experienced locals and hit the, what I hoped wasn’t open, water.

I arrive at the airport.
This is not one of the cushy airports that most think of, with its molded plastic seats and heating.
This is an airstrip and a bench.
In the snow.

Three and a half hours later I was back on the back of a snow-machine, heading back to the village.
Due to a heavy fog, the Bethel Airport had closed.

Ice crystals forming in my nose hairs.

The next day my morning flight was delayed.

The phone rang. There is a way to get off the ground.
A plane, stuck at our airstrip, needed a jump.
A pilot and a maintance man were on their way in. I could hitch a ride back.

After 45 minutes of scraping ice off the wings and body of a recently jumped plane we were finally in the air.

Back to Bethel.

You have a bench at your airport? Cushy!
yeah it does!
and on a good day the wind is stopped by the shed the bench backs up to.

aren't you envious?
Wait a minute. If these people have planes--why don't they fly the hell away from there????
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