These are my stories as a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Search & Rescue team in Coconino County, Arizona. I'll share what it's like to go from a beginner with a lot to learn to an experienced and, hopefully, valuable member of the team, as well as the missions, trainings, and other activities along the way.
About Coconino County
About Coconino County
Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.
May 20, 2010
What A Long, Strange Trip
I have some time to write now, while we wait for an assignment from International SAR Coordinator, Valerie Chang from the Red Cross, who arrives in Nepal this evening. A number of groups and individuals from various parts of the world are now involved in the search, as well as Nepalis including sherpas from the Langtang area and the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad. Aubrey's father, Paul Sacco, arrived yesterday and went directly to the Embassy, I believe.
So, back to the trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu two days ago, with Ingo, nine members of the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad, and three beautiful dogs--Maggie and Hunter, both hounds from the U.S., and Aldo, a German Shepherd donated from Germany.
It was the craziest bus trip of my life. Eight hours it took to travel a distance of 200 kilometers. Everywhere I looked was a snapshot. Every scene was an essay waiting to be written. Every face was a portrait. It was overwhelming, especially to someone like me who wishes she could capture every detail and share it. For now, though, I'm reduced to simple phrases. Kind of an "I spy" of sorts as I leaned my face out the bus window for some hot, moving air and exhaust. I put my sunglasses on to spare my eyes from the dirt and dust.
A small, shriveled old woman carrying a woven basket full of river rocks on her rounded back;
A boy herding goats inches from busses passing within inches of each other within inches of the steep drop into the valley below;
Terraced hillsides bright green with rice paddies and corn, rising above a brown river;
Men, women and children gathered around roadside pipes and spigots, washing dishes, washing clothes, washing themselves;
Women in bright, beautiful clothing, with shiny black hair, working in a dirty construction site with dirty men;
Chickens crossing the busy road, and goats and dogs and cows and ducks;
A police checkpoint, where we have to stop;
Women in saris and high heels on the backs of motorbikes, their bright silky scarves billowing out behind them;
Mud houses with thatched roofs;
Piles of brick, piles of stone, piles of bags of concrete mix, sand bags;
Hills in front of bigger hills in front of mountains in front of bigger mountains disappearing into the white, steamy haze;
Flowers of fuscia, red, yellow, white, lavendar and purple;
Trees ablaze in orange, their drooping branches heavy with large blooms;
Exotic women walking hand in hand, and arm in arm, carrying parasols down flower- and trash-lined streets;
Shop after shop after shop after shop--all open-faced, so many of them so much alike;
Street vendors, squatting next to their wares, spread on cloths at the edge of the road;
Bright, silky, sparkling, woven and woolen fabrics; baskets; shoes and sandals; piles of cabbage, tomatoes, melons, hot peppers; eggs in large, open cartons; beaded jewelry; clothing; purses; woven rugs; caged chickens; sacks of spices; bread; incense; sunglasses; sugary candies; warm bottled coke; white, purple, brown and red potatoes; statuettes; cigarettes; bunches of green bananas and heaps of mango;
Carts pushed by weathered people;
Street dogs sleeping in the dirt, on the concrete steps, at the side of the road, in the road;
Buildings, big and small, with uncovered windows and doors, leading into the blackness;
Traffic jams like puzzle pieces, inches apart;
Old landslides ending abruptly at the narrow road they once covered;
People standing next to their immobile busses, cars, motorbikes, trucks, waiting for an accident to clear;
Busses bloated with breathing bodies driving through a blast furnace;
Four-passenger cars with eight;
Gravel-laden trucks belching black smoke as they creep up the winding hill;
My life passing before my eyes as our bus passes another vehicle again, again on a blind curve;
Rock and water-filled gorges disappearing into the jungle;
A man clipping his toenails;
A young boy with a dirty face and grease-covered hands fixing a piece of machinery;
A man with a tube-shaped hat, carrying a large sack of something slung over his shoulder;
People spitting and snot-rockets;
Children playing a game without toys;
People sitting, doing nothing;
People staring back at me.
And that was the first ten minutes. :)
(New photos added here.)
Fantastic post, Deb. Good luck on the search.
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