As I write this, at 8:45 am EDT on Friday, June 14, 2013, our daughter Casey is on an island you’ve never heard of.
It’s called La Gonave, and it’s part of Haiti, which is on the island of Hispaniola, which is also home to the Dominican Republic, which we’ve been to many times without giving much thought to its neighbor. The DR’s main resort area, Punta Cana, is about 325 miles and several worlds away from Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince. La Gonave is even further away than that.
Casey is on La Gonave as part of a sort of cultural exchange program. The school at which she teaches sent her there to teach the poorest children how to express themselves through art and video. Casey was excited to go because it was a tremendous opportunity to visit a part of the world few Americans ever see, and a potentially life-changing experience to work with kids who have been exposed to very little of what our children take for granted, whether that be the web, Spongebob Squarepants, or three meals a day.
Casey was also nervous about going. She packed an entire water filtration system and a case of bug spray. She started downing Pepto Bismol days before she left, along with her malaria pills.
We are, of course, so proud of her for being chosen to go, and for the fact that she so wanted to go.
We are also so pissed at her because we haven’t heard from her for a whole day.
She left Wednesday morning. She sent us an e-mail when she arrived at her hotel (free Wi-fi!) in Port au Prince, and we chatted a bit on Facebook Thursday morning before she left for the ferry that would take her to La Gonave. But nothing since then.
I should say here that this is not entirely unexpected. The folks on La Gonave are more concerned about food and shelter than Internet access and, in any case, the island shuts off its electricity at 6pm. Maybe she could call or e-mail or text or something from her cell phone (however that stuff works), but she doesn’t want to go into debt with the data charges.
Also I’m sure she’s busy interacting with the kids and getting used to having an interpreter and learning to survive without air conditioning and, you know, filtering water. But the thing is, it’s difficult to remember going much longer than this without some sort of contact with her. When she was away at school…when she drove cross country…when she spent a summer in San Francisco…there was always a text, a post, a call, a Skype, an e-mail.
If there’s one good thing about the technology we now live with, it’s that we can stay in almost constant touch…and it’s striking when we suddenly can’t.
I’m sure we’ll hear from Casey soon. Possibly there is a carrier pigeon en route as I type these words. The pigeon will have a message that I will not understand because it will be in French Creole, but I will know it’s from her. I will know this because she will get here before the pigeon does. (This, by the way, will be true if she sent a postcard instead of the pigeon.)
See you soon, Casey. We miss you.
P.S. The photos in this post are ones Casey took in Port au Prince and posted to Facebook.
P.P.S. If I know Casey, missionaries who visit La Gonave (and there are many evidently), will be puzzled by the children’s obsession with Dr. Who.