To Korea with love
Leslee and I had been emailing every day. We met in Krakow, Poland in the Fall of 2010 where we were both taking an intensive course to get a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults.) For a month we lived in the same apartment complex, walked to class together, partied in Krakow’s never-ending café/bars and pondered what exactly we’d do next. We shared the same carefree attitude about travel and life, both determined to find our own way.
She’d just come from a year teaching in Korea. I’d been in Europe already a few months, and was awaiting information about an internship. After the course ended we split ways, I went to Italy and she went to the US. Then she went to Mexico, to teach English and hang out on the beach, and I went to Kenya, then back to Poland. We kept up sporadically throughout the time. But since I returned to the US, we started up an email correspondence that turned into a nearly everyday occurrence. I looked forward to those emails, wanting to hear what sort of adventures my friend was having in a foreign land.
A few weeks ago Leslee moved from Mexico back to Korea. Her last email came to me on February 28, and she told me she’d accidentally washed her passport. I didn’t hear from her after that, and wondered if it was because of a faulty internet connection, or that she was too busy. Certainly I’d gone weeks without internet when I was abroad. It is not uncommon. So, I wrote again, telling her about my weekend escapades, and still didn’t hear back.
I began to have that thought. The thought that always goes through your head when you don’t hear from a friend for a long time. You wonder if something could have happened.
But you never really think that’s the case. And it doesn’t dull the shock when you discover your fears were founded. Last week I went to Leslee’s facebook page and breathless, saw this: Leslee McCoy Recovery Fund
Struck by a car. Critical condition.
The nightmare travel situation—it happened to Leslee.
I don’t know how she’s doing, except for some posts by friends on her facebook wall, saying she’s had surgery and is doing a little better.
I can’t imagine how her family is feeling right now, although I read that they were with her in Korea. What a way to visit your child abroad.
Whenever I hear things like this it makes me feel very lucky—and a little bit foolish for all of the crazy things I’ve gotten away with when I’m abroad. The closest I ever came to a real health problem was when I was worried the stitches in my knee had become infected in Kenya.
Terrible accidents can of course occur anywhere. The fear of being struck by a car, catching a disease or being shot shouldn’t scare you away from traveling. But when you’re abroad and it happens, it IS that much worse. It’s that much scarier, that much more stressful.
The anxiety must be unbelievable. But there is always hope. Email buddy, fearless traveling pal—Please recover, and continue to be your strong, witty self.
I miss your words.