Blizzard Rages and being Scared of the Dark

Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
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Trip End Feb 16, 2012


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Flag of Canada  , Nunavut,
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The wind is howling outside and the whole house is shaking. It is snowing like a thousand swarming bees outside.  I'm reading this Dean Kootz book called Icebound, it's perfect for this weather - all about the death grip of a blizzard on some scientists in the arctic and playing on their phobias of ice and frost (cryophobia), fear of cold (frigophobia), and fear of snow (chionophobia). Hard to imagine having those kinds of phobias in an environment like this.
In a remote location like King William Island, all our water has to be delivered to our house.  But due to technical difficulties and the weather, we have had no water in three days.  It's kind of like camping.  We have lots of drinkable water stored up but water for washing is in shortage. I have really taken clean hair and washing machines for granted these past many years.  We've started shovelling in snow from the outdoors to melt.  Really adds to the wild element of adventure.

Recently we watched "30 Days of Night" - a movie about vampires that attack a little northern town in Alaska.  You know how vampires can't be in sunlight eh? Well, the premise of this movie was that they could feast on the innocent townspeople for a month until the sun came up again. Like in Gjoa Haven, the Alaskan houses are built on stilts because of the permafrost. In this movie, lots of screaming people got dragged under the houses, so now I"m kind of scared to go near the underside of the house. Also, I'm more and more looking forward to seeing the sun!

We just so happened to come across another movie called "Frozen" about these teens that get forogtten and stranded on a ski hill chair lift. They spend long nights in the cold getting frostbite - a chilling movie but would have been a lot more believable if they had zipped their coats up all the way. Eventually one of the three tried to jump down from the chair suspended above the trees and both his legs broke in the fall. It's not long before he gets eaten by wolves.

... and speaking of wolves, we heard from the Department on Conservation that there are three on the loose in Gjoa Haven.   The Warden says they caught a wolfe a few months ago that was seven feet!!  Now, I actually think I might have seen a wolf on the first or second night here when I took the dog out. A HUGE white 'dog' was walking on the other side of the snow covered street and I almost didn't see it because it was the same colour of the snow. Luckily it just kept walking.  When I heard that there were wolves in the community, I thought about how we had walked out alone to the far and isolated monument on the peninsula. Hmm, maybe I should have been prepared for an animal attack.  And speaking of animal attack, what is one to do when they see a polar bear?  In these arctic communities there is a town alarm that sounds when a polar bear is in the area.  But what if you're out on the land?  Unlike other bears in Canada who will probably not bother you unless provoked, Polar Bears will hunt humans.  At first I wanted to see a polar bear but now that I think how I might have come close to one of those killers out there alone, I've changed my mind.

There are some very real fears up here, no doubt about that. Besides the freezing cold, the wild animals, and the dark, there are a few crazy people up here that kind of scare me.  My mother-in-law has had her truck tires slashed and her windows smashed by a local who hates the nurses of the community.  Not only are these isolated incident unnerving, but so are the social problems of the north in general.  Very high rates of suicide, family violence (noticiable black eyes and green fading bruises), and substance abuse (we met a man in town who had gone blind from drinking antifreeze).

Things up here are so different from anywhere else I've been in the rest of Canada or the world.  It's not even like Iceland, which you might think would be similar because of the name. It's a totally different place up here. The native people call us "Kabloona" which means 'white person' or "other".  And I feel so foreign, not only because I look different and stand out like a neon light even in my hooded parka, but also because I don't speak the language, and the landscape and traditional way of life are completely unfamiliar. The only real proof that we are in Canda is the currency, although there are no ATMs by which to get this money, also there is no cell phone service anywhere.  Amazing how many uniquenesses can exist on one planet.  Despite all these hazardous natural elements, the Inuit people have resiliantly persevered in the arctic.  However, I have a sad and scary feeling that this culture might not be able to be preserved enough to withstand the future, even considering their extreme isolation. With television and internet, other cultural influences are leaking in like the cold through the window cracks in this blizzard. 

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