This past Friday was the day for me to skedaddle from Kongiganak, aka Donkey Kong, aka Kongiganak, pronounced in the traditional, non-kassaq way. Normally I like to do these departure things on Saturdays, as there are tons of SNAFU possibilities when traveling, and having the whole day as a buffer for them is helpful. But this time I had my final inservice of the year to attend in Bethel on Saturday, so Friday afternoon we made a go of it. More on that in a bit.
How was Kong? I'm sure that's on everyone's minds. Kong was ok. There, I've said it. Positives first: I met, as always, some kind and friendly staff and locals there. I had a nice comfy living area up amongst the ductwork. I was so used to the hum up there, I was kind of sleepless my first night back in Bethel. Kind of like missing the sound of the trains at night in Gordon, WI, which I do. There was a pretty nice (clean) kitchen to use at the school, and even an open shelf in the fridge where I could keep my perishables. Oh, and they let me have a key to the school. Some places like to hem and haw about borrowing me a key to use while I'm there. Some make me sign my life away on a sheet of paper. Some pretend not to have any or know their whereabouts. Some just refuse. Anything besides giving me a key right away is stupid. Kong passed the B.R. Key Loan Intelligence Test.
Not-so-positives: My classes were all taught after school hours at Kong. This meant that my day was spent doing prep work, reading, conversing with friends, etc. I'd much prefer to teach in the day and be done in the evenings. The kids like it better that way, too. The thing is, they have a choice, and several chose to drop out of the classes, since staying enrolled would involve being at school until 8:30 at night. It gets frustrating having kids drop out of your program, especially since it's an opportunity they haven't had before, and may not have again. On the plus side, the students that stuck it through were dedicated.
Also, the facilities had a couple issues. With pretty much every village I go to, it's a given that there will be some civil construction project, with construction workers living out of the school, cramping my itinerant lifestyle big time. At this one, there was actually a temporary living place near the jobsite for all these guys to live, with most of the necessary amenities. The one thing they were missing out there was showering and laundry facilities. Not to worry, as Kong has a washeteria for them to take care of their needs. But, the day I arrived in Kongiganak was the day the washeteria burnt up and the music died. Doing hygiene, for me, meant waiting til stupid hours of the night for this parade of workers to be done in the only men's bathroom in the school.
Speaking of the men's bathroom, special thanks to the kid, who every 3 days or so would go in there and piss all over the place. Oops, I almost forgot to thank his buddy, the kid with the bloody nose who leaves blood on the floor, sinks, and walls.
Every school should have staff facilities, separate from everybody else's.
I suppose at this time I should cut to the chase and discuss the travel back. My charter plane was scheduled to arrive to get me at 4 PM on Friday. I had the maintenance man help me get the gear onto the sled and out to the runway 15 minutes early, just to be safe. The weather was about 5 degrees, wind about 20 knots. Not too bad. But, by the time the plane showed up at 5:20 I was kind of cold. Evidently the airline had me down for 4/7 instead of 4/3. When my ride went to pick me up at the airport in Bethel and asked about my flight, they made the panic face and scrambled to send a plane out for me. Not only that, but in the meantime a big A.T.S. twin prop cargo plane showed up and was taking up most of the taxi area, which meant I had to move all the stuff from the usual loading spot. Moving all the gear over to my plane across glare ice without spikes was a tricky, backbreaking pain in the posterior.
After loading up, it was a cold, drafty, noisy ride home. I got the plane with the really bad doors this time. I always have earplugs in my coat, largely due to the possibility of sometime having to ride in this particular plane. It pays off...
Arriving at Yute Air so late in the day, nobody was there besides the employees. My ride/box van was nowhere to be found. After I called the TO for a ride, then my coworker showed up all stressed out about the whole thing. So I had 2 rides show up. Right away, the scheduled driver said how they had to cancel an appointment to get me so late. Since they were the same person who set up my flight, I informed them that I had been sitting at the runway for an hour and a half, what the #@&* happened to 4:00?? Who knows how one can mess up the difference between Friday 4/3 and Tuesday 4/7. Soon enough I was at the TO, wolfing tacos for dinner, and Donkey Kong was just another one for the books.
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