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At the End of a Long Drive

Shreesh and Neena Taskar

We didn't make the decision, the decision made us. On October 20th, 2007, we left our comfortable city of San Francisco to follow a simple algorithm - go North till the road ends then turn around and then go as far South. In between those two points was the stage, the timeline, the space, where we made things happen and things happened to us.

The past is fleeting and the stories, the sights and the feelings are perishable. One sees what one wants to see, and perhaps we are not capable of more. We saw that people are kind and helpful even if they were not materially rich. Some we could understand even though we didn't speak the same language, the motivations of others were incomprehensible even though we did. In the end fragments remain - the smell of roasting chocolate, a flock of snow Ptarmigians on snow, the creaking of the rainforest, the rough feathers of penguins, and the intoxication of Curanto.

So these are our stories. Every time you visit the site you will see a random post below. Each starts with Lo que pasa es que...


Outside the classroom
Teton Science School

Classes at Kelly were hard work and no play – but the surroundings were beautiful. (Map this!)

We have been living in a monastery. Or that’s what it felt like. Get up at 5am. Study. Breakfast at 7am. Kitchen duty. Classes from 8am to 5pm. Study again till 6pm. Dinner; more study or practice sessions till 10pm. And over again. Weekends ER (Emergency Room) rotations or study. No Alcohol. Spartan accommodations in bunks. Keep your areas clean; no cycling on campus.

It wasn’t all nose to the grind; the actual classes were fun and interesting due to the talented teachers. And Shreesh and I were given a cabin to ourselves by the nice people at Teton Science School. We were in beautiful Grand Teton National Park, the Tetons a constant presence. They would peer bashfully at us through pink skies early in the morning as we lay in the snow pretending to have various broken bones, nasty hemorrhages or heart attacks for others to practice their EMT skills on us. Or they would be a majestic presence under blue skies as the instructors dunked the two youngest and fittest people in the ice cold river for others to rescue. They would be peering curiously at us in the moonlight during a mock rescue staged at night in freezing temperatures. And the elk, moose and buffalo were always around as we practiced backboarding each other in under seven minutes, gave oxygen to dummies or shocked them repeatedly for some sign of life.

pink-tetons teton-campus

The Grand Tetons

The Campus

There were, of course, the inevitable friendships and cliques, the cool people and the uncool, the “normal” and the mavericks. We missed a lot of that being on our own in the cabin but even with mostly nice people, the currents ran deep.

Did we have fun? Sometimes yes, but it was way too much hard work to really qualify as fun. Now that its over we are glad we did it; I feel so much more prepared to deal with medical situations when doctors aren’t readily available. In hindsight though, a Wilderness First Responder course would probably have sufficed.