After a candlelit move-in, we woke up to our first morning in Pickle Lake, which was bright and sunny. Our foursome split in half as Eric and Michaela went off to Mish, and Kelsey and Jess headed off to Crolancia. Both groups were met with warm greetings from the teachers and various community members. The excitement from the younger children was heart-warming as Jess and Kelsey became covered with baby koala bear children that were absolutely wonderful and a whole new level of energetic. The excitement ensued that evening after a brief and painful jog, where it was clear that our muscles had slightly wasted away after being crammed into the car for 7 hours; Michaela’s position of choice had been a painful fetal position with various teaching supplies strewn across her lap, Jessica’s was with her legs straight up in the air, birthing several backpacks, and Kelsey’s legs were misplaced somewhere among the boxes of tea. After a lengthy set of stretches, we had the pleasure of meeting Miles, who was kind enough to introduce us to his family and friends as well as show us the weather station and other hot spots in the town. The night was then completed with a chick flick that was even greater than our sick, sick addiction to dried mangos.
Tossing her luxurious leopard print snuggie aside, Michaela greeted day 2 with enthusiasm as she and Eric headed to Mish early this morning. Little did they know that they would be spending the day teaching the Ontario English curriculum to a class while Michaela stood “so tall and skinny” in her “fake moccasins” in front of the door to prevent any students from leaving. At the end of the day, they had many great interactions with more of the teachers as well as the Chief and community nurse. Coming home with more knowledge of specific community issues and with an excited attitude about the upcoming community Diabetes walk, Michaela returned to her snuggie and Eric returned to make dinner (such a good husband). As for our Pickle People, Jess and Kelsey spent the afternoon pushing swings, pulling sweaters over heads, pasting tissue paper on jars at craft time and pacing the forest with a group of 8 children and Ms. McKillop for the Outdoors Club. They were then fortunate enough to be escorted home by a group of 6 lovely children on their bikes.
After about 20 minutes of relaxation, an exciting phone call from Miles Hoffman came in, where he instructed: “Wear warm clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and rubber boots. I’ll pick you up at 7:30 and I’ll explain later.” And when 7:30 rolled around, much to our delight, we were taken to a river located just south of Mish where we caught fish with our bare, falcon-like hands. Thank you Miles for taking the time to share such a rare opportunity with us (one that occurs only about 3 days/year during the spawning season)!