Let’s Hook Up!

Our phone rang this morning. We looked at each other, questioning that unfamiliar sound. It was our first phone call. Bell was on the line to announce that our phone was now operational. We have Internet too!  A different provider, s l o w … but it works. Until now, we’ve been using the computers set up at the hotel. I called family members and spent the afternoon catching up and just listening to their voices, imagining they were closer. It is so different living in a flyin community. At Mistissini, we always had a choice of driving to the Saguenay for a getaway weekend or even braving the nine-hour drive to Montreal. Not that we did it often, but the choice was there. I miss my little Subarau, which is lovingly being cared for by my brother.

Our belongings finally arrived with remarkably little breakage. Everything was frozen, but survived, except for a jar of celery root (a German specialty).

The house is a standard teacher issue: A semi-detached, two bedrooms, one of which we converted into an office, a large eat-in kitchen and living room. Perfectly functional, with brown carpets and linoleum flooring in the kitchen and bath.

The front of our house faces south, so the kitchen and livingroom are bathed in sunlight.

After unpacking, we had lots of boxes that were not salvageable. We drove a truckload to the “Canadian Tire” or the dry goods dump. This is the dump where people can find parts for just about anything. There was even a school bus submerged in the snow.

Large crows circled the other “kitchen scrap” dump. Thought I might see a bear there.  Maybe next time.




Walkabout Town

I’ve done a couple of walkabouts around town and have mentally mapped such important structures as the Northern Store, the Co-op, the arena (should I ever decide to start a fitness program), and the pool. My trick is to orient myself to the Great Whale River and Hudson Bay to not to become hopelessly lost. Even if I did become lost, how far could I go?

It is not as cold as it is windy.  When the wind blows off the frozen bay, it is brutal.

Every house has several skidoos out front and there are a surprizing number of cars and trucks.

The dogs, mostly huskies and husky mixes, are very guarded and don’t follow me, but watch me suspiciously.

Today I found a caribou hoof on the side of the street. Andy mentioned that when he attended a meeting at the local school, students had two entire caribou laid out on the floor to practice skinning and butchering. The hoof was probably thrown out for the dogs.

The people of both communities are very friendly and many have welcomed us with big smiles.

Andy went to the bar again after a few days. We didn’t want to go back to have a beer, but hoped to pick up two beers and bring them back to the hotel. Apparently, there are no “take-outs.”  But he met a guidance counsellor from the Maritimes, who watched his plight. After a quick chat, he asked Andy and I to come over and have a beer with him, which we did after considerable thought. We listened to his tales and stories and ended up ordering a pizza (yes, pizza is possible at a price). More people came up to us and welcomed us, introducing themselves and offering their hands. It was a much more pleasant experience than our first one.

White, Bright Light

Big White Hudson's Bay

Big White Hudson’s Bay

It is bright outside, snow reflecting the sun’s glare off the frozen bay. There is nothing to break up the light … no trees or clouds.  The roads are white as well.

We’ve noticed different housing styles for the Cree and Inuit. The Inuit homes are on stilts and built tall, reminiscent of homes we’ve seen by the sea in Newfoundland. In Newfoundland houses were built like this so they could easily be moved inland when storms were anticipated.  But I don’t think this is the case here. Perhaps something to do with permafrost.

Andy got his truck.  A bit battered, with a rusty stain on one side (blood?).  The steering didn’t work, but we managed to limp it to a garage.  A mechanic came out, lifted the hood, had a quick look, grabbed a piece of plastic hose and attached it to something somewhere, all in a few seconds.  The steering works now.

Andy parked the truck at the school board. While he was inside, two people came by to borrow the truck keys to run errands, asking Andy if it was OK.  It’s fine with him, because on 8 km. of roads, how far could can anyone go?

The house is ready for our shipment which arrived today. Finally, our own sheets and pillows and a home-cooked meal!

Bliss …




Arrived at Whapmagoostui or is it Kuujjuarapik?

Flying with Huskies in a Twin Otter

Flying with Huskies in a Twin Otter

We arrived at Kuujjuarapik, the Inuit community by the neighbouring Cree community of Whapmagoostui. This is where we will live for the next year and a half.

I took pictures, but the internet is  s o   s l o w . . .  But as soon as I can I will post them.

Our flight was late out of Montreal and was rather uneventful until the smiling fight attendant announced that we would need to land at the nearest airport, La Grande, as the plane was experiencing technical difficulties.

At La Grande, we waited at the terminal and watched from the large picture window, as our plane was towed away (scrap yard?). A group of prisoners arrived and shuffled through the waiting room in shackles, hands chained in front of them and boarded another plane. They had lots of security with them. We were offered a boxed lunch and then ushered onto a tiny twin otter propeller plane. We sat in a single row, as the other seats were raised to accommodate large crates of huskies.

Upon our arrival late afternoon, we found out our belongings were still in the south. It had been our understanding that our shipment had arrived over a week ago, and was in our new home. Our things may or may not be here in about five days. With no sheets, blankets or pots, we booked into the Nunavik Co-op Hotel. Our room overlooks Hudson Bay and has all amenities, except the toilet flush handle is missing and the TV doesn’t work. But there are extras such as condoms tucked between the shampoo and conditioner. Hmm ….

It is very bright and white outside. Even if there was a polar bear, we wouldn’t be able to see it.

During out wait at the airport at La Grande, before our arrival, we chatted with a young couple who had lived in the community. They recommended where to eat and which of the two bars in town to go to.  After settling in our room, we wandered towards the local eatery. On the way, we decided to go to the bar our traveling companions had mentioned to have a beer to celebrate our safe arrival.

A man immediately sat down with us introduced himself as King George and said he loved my blue eyes. He asked if I was Irish.

I said, “No, I am German.”

He seemed disappointed. “Did you know Hitler?” He asked.

I explained that I was born long after his death and I never really had a chance to meet him. He made a few comments about my ancestry and continued to praise my eyes and stare.

Then he turned to Andy and said “I hope she’s not offended about what I said.”

Then he shrugged. “Even if she is, what would you do about it?”

I’ve never seen a bar fight in my life and hope to never witness one. I quickly rubbed my stomach and feigned extreme hunger and insisted that Andy take me out to eat. Maybe we went to the wrong bar.  If this was the “safe” one, what is the other one like?

We headed for the little diner run by a French Canadian couple and wrote up our own order at the counter.

We finally saw our house. It’s really not bad, bright and spacious, and just needs a good cleaning. We’ll be comfortable once set up. Since all out stuff is down south, this gives me plenty of time to ready it.

I am looking across the grand bay again … still no distinguishable features. I can’t attach pictures for some reason. The hotel computer works fine tough, even though I cannot connect with my other devices.

Can’t wait to take more pictures!