Sometimes half the battle is getting there …
A group of NOLS students encountered their first experience adversity and uncertainty before their course even started last week. As Hurricane Paul neared the Baja Peninsula, the Loreto airport, their destination, shut down.
The challenges of operating in remote areas are not unfamiliar to NOLS, however, and it took just a little time to get all 11 students to the NOLS location for their Baja Sea Kayaking course.
As the storm weakened, rain hammered the Baja Peninsula and students were advised to stay together and wait for a rescheduled flight from Los Angeles. Because there aren’t flights to Loreto daily, and upcoming flights had been booked, NOLS and the students worked together to get the group to Cabo, instead.
Regular emails and phone calls were exchanged between parents, NOLS Mexico, NOLS Headquarters, and students throughout. In addition to tolerance for adversity, the moment demanded strong communication. In fact, at the same time, NOLS Mexico and Headquarters staff were communicating with three courses in the field about the hurricane and updating parents about their location and well-being.
Five of the 11 Baja Sea Kayaking students spent the night in Los Angeles, then flew to Cabo. They spent another night waiting for a flight that had just been added to Loreto, rather than taking a bus to Loreto. This was a challenge in itself for NOLS: working with the small Mexican airline for the first time.
It was certainly a boon to this group that another student, traveling by himself, also found himself in Cabo at this time. He is Mexican and had a cell phone. NOLS Headquarters was able to facilitate his rendezvous with the five and put him in direct communication with the NOLS Mexico office for the rest of their journey.
The remaining five students had made it to Loreto earlier and hopped a shuttle bus to the NOLS location. Unfortunately, because information about roads proved to be virtually non-existent, this ride, which usually takes an hour, took nine due to washed out roads. The six from Cabo arrived at NOLS Mexico Friday afternoon, about 24 hours after the five who flew to Loreto.
Just 48 hours late, the entire course was safe and happy at the NOLS Mexico Branch in Coyote Bay, ready to begin the next adventure Mexico would provide them.