Going out to a place like Diomede is not that easy. Diomede is out at the ends of the earth…way out of the way. There are many variables pertinent to traveling to this rock island that in my modern travels, I haven’t really factored any more. This is more like going to a village in Papua New Guinea, also the last frontier and also the land of the unexpected.
Not the least of these variables is whether or not there will be an airstrip carved out on the sea ice or if the trip will be by helicopter, since the island is on a steep-sided rock in the middle of the Bering Sea. Then of course there is weather (the principal and a teacher were stuck trying to get back to Diomede for a few weeks, in the last month of the school year!), mechanical issues, and how many other passengers are waiting to get back to Diomede, and how much mail and cargo has built up in the towns around Diomede. Also for me–it meant trying to fit a village trip into a full-time schedule in town. Lucky me, I’m the village doctor for Diomede and three other villages, so it is something that the medical director makes a special exception for.
We weren’t sure if we were going to make it into Diomede or not, so we went to the village of Wales to await a mail run out to the island. From the airport to the clinic, I got a sled ride!
Then a guy picked me up on his snow machine and we zipped to clinic–he said “Just hold on real tight, because we are going to go water skipping.” And we did–we drove across a patch of open water and got to clinic a couple minutes later.