06 August, 2011


Today was a strange day, indeed. Dad and I were scheduled to make a trip to Ant Atoll today with the folks from The Village. There were two other people signed up for the same trip – guests at The Village. Having concerns about the weather – which turned out to be unwarranted – the other folks canceled their trip at the last minute. Rather than pay the full cost of the boat ourselves, we canceled, too. (We are now slated to take that trip tomorrow … barring any unexpected snafus.)

This schedule change prompted us to bump our planned visit to the Liduduhniap (Twin) Waterfalls from tomorrow to today. Mom and Dad have already been to these falls, so we didn’t need a guide. We donned our swimming duds and set out for the river. We arrived, and had just finished reading the warnings on the shrine situated at the head of the trail to the falls, when a young American woman stopped us. She was shaky and frantic and choking back tears. She told us we shouldn’t go to the falls right then … that they had a medical emergency and were awaiting an ambulance. She and her party had been enjoying the falls and swimming in the river when there was an accident.

Apparently one of the two waterfalls has been deemed safe for people to climb up and jump off of into the river below. The other has been restricted and deemed very dangerous due to several accidents that have occurred on it.

This is the story the young American woman told us:

A woman today had been jumping off the safe waterfall. As she was climbing up for another jump, she lost her footing. She fell down the restricted waterfall. A young local boy who had been swimming with the American group located her after she fell. He told the Americans that he thought she was dead. Hoping that she was merely unconscious, they waited for the ambulance.

As the ambulance and police cars arrived, our car got blocked in, so we ended up waiting at the head of the trail as island paramedics went to tend to the fallen girl. Local people began arriving to swarm around the area as word began to spread. (The coconut telegraph is always the fastest way to spread news.) About 15-20 minutes later the paramedics loaded the woman (and the stretcher on which they were carrying her) into the ambulance. Her face was covered. She had hit her head during the fall. Her fall had, indeed, been fatal. The ambulance carried her away. As her party slowly paraded up the trail to their truck, we recognized them as the group of World Teach volunteers sitting in the row in front of us at the Presidential Inauguration. If I’m not mistaken, the woman that fell was the one seated directly in front of us that day. She was young … around 25 years old. I remember her laughing a lot with some of the other volunteers. She looked really happy to be here … so young and full of hope. I do not say this in an attempt to eulogize someone I never met. I just remember it striking me that day how hopeful and innocent she looked.

Needless to say, it was an awful situation. We, obviously, did not go to the waterfalls after that. The thought of the loss of this young woman in the flash of a moment has been lying heavy with each of us since.

I ask you to please send healing energy, prayers, positive thoughts, good vibes … whatever you can spare … to the friends and family of this woman; to the World Teach volunteers who witnessed and will likely be haunted by this event; and especially to the following: her parents in Maine (USA); and the person who has (had) to make the call to her parents to give them this horrible news.

And maybe after you read this, you can go remind those you love just how much you love them. And embrace them if they’re near enough. And really be present in that embrace. Savor it. And be reminded how each microcosm of life can change with the blink of an eye; the whisper of a wind; and, sometimes, the death of a child or a friend. I love you all.


  1. Interesting that I found this blog, very intriguing journey
    so far. Glad you are following your heart. Tell your parents
    I said hello, and I hope you are doing well!


  2. Not to be rude, but which Chris is this?

  3. Guess I shouldn't assume I am the only
    Chris you know, lol...Chris C.

  4. Chris C. ... Kannapolis Chris?

  5. Wow. Long time ... hope you're well!