Midnight. The outside is engulfed in a darkness that would make it next to impossible to see if it weren’t for the light pole that spilled an orange glow on the sidewalk. Midnight. The beast roars to life as ten students and the designated driver Brad squish themselves in the white oblong body. Minute past midnight–the beast begins to chug along. The journey begins. I take one last glimpse towards my school, momentarily wondering if this trip would truly be meaningful like I had promised myself it would be.
I saw the poster hanging on the big tackboard outside of my classroom. In big black bold letters: Want to go on an Alternative Spring Break? Then a few brief details about a service trip. South Dakota. Pine Ridge Reservation. Spring Break 2015. I ponder at the thought of going to a Native American Reservation. It sounds rewarding and like a once in a life time deal. But as I walk away my mind begins to clutter with Chemistry.
The trip starts out a bit uneasy for me. I sit on the edge of a seat big enough for three, but really only comfortable enough for two. “What am I doing?” I question myself. Stoppit I yell at myself. This trip isn’t meant for me, it’s about those kids. “Hang on kids, please.” my mind wanders, “We’re coming.”
At the first stop I find myself moving to sit in between two other girls. Our journey goes on as we continue to drive on I-90. The darkness fades into a light haze. Time goes by, pole after pole, tree by tree, cornstalk to cornstalk.
I day dream as I gaze outside. It’s flat. Cornfields claim the majority of land from the road to as far as I can see. And where the cornfields don’t touch, giant metal telephone poles claim. Silos show signs of where a farm resides, some are giant and silver, while others have that “old-style” look to them. New farms are planted with a bright painted barn, while the old farmsteads are laid out with an old and faded barn that is often broken with age. All I can think of the entire time is how peaceful it looks out here.
Our first stop in South Dakota is in Oacoma at a small diner combined with a store called Al’s Oasis. There we discover a giant bison statue across the street. There we take a first of many group pictures to come, and the selfies to follow.
A few days passed by, my mind was still occupied with Chemistry. School. Bills. Money. Work. I had a Spanish table talk thing that I needed to attend as part of my participation grade. I was nervous. I wasn’t good at talking to people especially in a language I was barely getting the hang of. So I sat down next to a girl I recognized earlier as the girl next to me in the coffee line. Her curly red hair touched her shoulders. Her personality bubbled out of her like a light bulb in a lamp. “Hola.” she said to me, “¿Comó te llamas?” I smiled and said, “Angel” and asked her what her name was. She replied that her name is Ashley.
I bumped into Ashley again a few days later, but this time at the booth to promote the trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her energy poured out of her and into me. Her enthusiasm gave me an itch to want to go. So I took the application with a plan to set out on a journey to the West. I didn’t know it at the time that the trip would shape me into more culturally diverse person.
As we further Westward, our journey goes past the Badlands. We stop and stretch our legs a bit. Filled to the brim with excitement, a few of the other students make their way to as close to the edge as they dare to venture. Meanwhile I try not to think about the possibility of what could happen if I were to fall. I almost miss the sign about rattle snakes.
It is about 5pm when we pull into the driveway of Outlaw Ranch. Our chaperons Mary and Larry greet us with warm, friendly smiles. They lead us to a dining hall where a light meal was waiting for us. Upon entering through the tan door, an aroma of soup and oatmeal bread overpowers me. My knees want to buckle, and my stomach lets out a grumble in response. We all willingly eat the first of many delicious and new dishes that are prepared for us.
After supper we are shown the way to where we are to be staying. We all scramble our way to unpack our luggage, and make our way to a bedroom of our liking. I pick the first bedroom I come to. There I find my friends Danielle, Rosie, and Lacey all unpacking their belongings. I was excited for the next upcoming week.