Sunday, May 23, 2010

We come in Peace!

It’s been a couple of good days here in Gambell, Alaska. Warmth is now reaching its way up onto this tiny island, and I’m hoping it’s going to make its home here for a while. Well, at least until I leave tomorrow! It’s been very clear, which is making the view of Russia better and better each day. Yesterday was the clearest it has ever been. It was also a great day for whale watching. We saw over 15 humpback whales passing by the island. Luckily, whale hunting season has passed, and we were able to watch them without the distraction of the natives on their boats. The whales were absolutely amazing, and you could hear them even before you spotted them. The noise they made from their blowholes made it sound like some alien language, to which I jokingly said, “We come in peace.” And of course, someone was videotaping around me, and they got it on video. It was pretty funny to watch though. We were quickly entertained by throwing rocks to this small iceberg in hopes that if we put enough on it that it would sink. Well… it didn’t work, but we did get a new game started :)

Most of the teachers have left the island already. I think there is only 2 more left besides my sister and her friend, Ashley. But because we have to mail all our stuff back to the lower 48 and we have to check out like a day before, we have to get rid of a lot of food and stuff we need. So we have been eating some strange stuff lately. Ok, well, it’s not strange food; it is just strange combinations of foods. As of now I have not tried any of the local food, such as whale, walrus, and polar bear. I guess the whale my sister got wasn’t a good “batch” and they had to throw some of it out. So it looks like I will not be trying any of that.

Right now we are just finishing packing and laying around because there isn’t much for us to do when you don’t have anything in your apartment, and you’ve explored the island multiple times already. Less than 24 hours until I will be on a plane headed to Nome, and headed to Anchorage! Let the adventures restart!!

P.S. I just figured out that I can upload my pictures using my memory card on my computer, so pictures will be added hopefully sometime this week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Birds are Singing

It's a warm and sunny day here on the island. And when I say warm, I mean that a light jacket is just perfect. I can not believe how quickly the weather changed here! Yesterday I was completely freezing with my fluffy jacket on... and now I really don't need anything. It's so warm, the birds are singing outside!

School is now out for summer here, and more kids seemed to show up after school was out, than when school was in session. The just walked right on through the windows... craziness. I spent 4 hours playing monopoly on my iPhone today. It was INTENSE! I am still completely amazed that I played it for that long. I went from having everything I owned (which was over half the board) mortgaged and only$1500 in my account (whilst my opponent, the computer, had at least $14K) to winning the whole darn thing! I came from behind and in the end, I won with over $40K in my bank account. Now that was some dedication.

I had to break into my sister's apartment again. Not because we locked ourselves out, we just didn't have the key. I was only with one of my sister's friends on the island and we didn't want to wait 20 minutes for anyone to show up. So we went through the window, and no, this time I did not need a Walrus rib to pry open the window. The only downfall was Ashley not getting proper footing before I used her leg as a brace to get through the window, and she went falling into the snowdrift. Another good moment we should have had a video of. Anyways, only 2 more full days left on the island, then I'm off to Anchorage. I am sooo excited for that. Camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, shopping!!! What's not to like?!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

That's a coma I just poured into my hand...

Hooray for another day of survival on the island! I've got some stuff to catch you up on. I forgot to mention my hilarious experience with a snowdrift. While going to the beach, in which I did get to touch the Bering Sea water, I got an unexpected surprise. Before I knew it... whoosh! I was 4 feet down in a snowdrift. Let's just say, it was video worthy, cuz not only was it hilarious to watch, it was hilarious to hear. It was pretty awesome, and definitely made my night.

So the next day (which was yesterday), was just another day at the school. My sister had her eye appt. from some guys that flew in from Anchorage. We walked home shortly after. Only to find out that a door was locked that we didn't have a key to. Which is completely stupid, why put up a door with a lock on it if you don't have a key?! We had the idea of using an ax to break down the door once and for all, until I realized that the windows are never locked and one doesn't even have a screen in place. (Truthfully, I had that plan in my head all week, especially since my sis doesn't have keys to this apartment, and we really needed to get in at some point). So we go over to the window, and the drift + my height = perfect height to get to the window. I was able to budge up the window with my hands just enough for it to open, but not enough to open it all the way. So Mary Ellen, my sister's roomate, walked up and handed me a Walrus rib to pry open the window... she didn't even think twice about handing it to me... I however was like... ok.... So I was able to pry open the window and climbed right on through, I gained a new nickname to show for it, I am now a gazelle. :)

The next day while we were off to school, I was fortunate enough to get a ride on a Honda. That lasted aobut 2 minutes, til I kind of slid off... my sister said I fell. I just however lost my grasp on the bar because I was holding an iron in a box and just kinda slid right off (landing on my feet of course). After I wasn't holding the iron anymore I was perfectly fine. Ashley's (my sisters friend) headphones had a different fate. We aren't quite sure how, but they ended up completely destroyed with wires hanging out and ear pieces missing. It's definitely a mystery. Today was field day at my sisters school, I was able to help "run" the games (meaning I just set up the courses). It went really well, and I think the kindergardeners are absolutely adorable! We were lucky enough to get a Honda ride back with one of the students from the school, which made it a quick trip back to the apartment. We had breakfast for dinner... and that's basically it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I jokes :)

Yet another day here on the island. I guess it's time to update. It was another clear day yesterday, clear enough that Russia was very visible, even a lot of the teachers that have been here all year said it was probably the most clear they have ever seen! Looks like i've been completely lucky this past week to be able to see Russia and see a complete Arctic white-out. I didn't really do much yesterday. My sister's class was mostly watching movies and were painting. There topic was pointillism, well, that was more than they could apparently handle. Before we knew it, some kids had black "gloves" on... The lunch here was especially disgusting. It definitely lived up to the old crappy elementary school lunch expectation. It was some sort of fish stick/nugget thing of sorts... that paired with the powdered mild (which by the way, is absolutely DISGUSTING!) just about did it for me. When I got back to my sisters apartment, it was spaghetti and rice for me. It pretty much made my day.

Of course, that was after we were almost ran over by the Hondas (their 4 wheelers). I must say, no matter where you are living, whether it be on an island or in huge cities, they have crappy and rude drivers everywhere. They just expect you to get out of the way while they are driving. HELLO!!! you are on a 4 wheeler, you can drive ANYWHERE! why must we move out of the way when we are the ones who are walking... just plain rude.

A new game I've been addicted to now, is Monopoly... yes, Monopoly. I am still not sure why I am getting so addicted to these old school games. Maybe because they seem much cooler on my iPhone... again, I really don't know.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why yes, I'm addicted to Battleship!

It's been another day here in the ever so sunny village named Gambell. My sis took the day off from work so we could just relax and explore the village a little bit. We went to one of the beaches and saw some of the natives take off in their boats. They were going walrus hunting today. I know they at least caught one, I was unfortunate enough to see someone walking around with the head of one... lets just say it was pretty darn disgusting. We then headed to the "blue store" (because they building is blue) and just looked around. I found $10 pickles! I don't know about you, but that is quite ridiculous. Even the detergent peaked up to $30. INSANITY! Afterwards, we headed to North Beach, I was unaware how long the walk would take. It was quite a ways away from the other beach. Here we just took some pictures and walked around. We even saw some of Russia again. But it was mostly cloudy on the horizon so we didn't see much. However, Gambell was relatively clear and it was getting pretty warm, at least in the mid to late 30s. So much so, the snow was turning to slush. We came back to the apartment and had some dinner and played some games. I am now addicted to online Battleship. I am not sure why, but I have a talent for it... I am not sure when my next post will be. The next few days I will be with my sis helping out in her classroom. I've already seen most of the island, so there isn't much left to explore. Just 1 week left here, then off to Anchorage.

Random thoughts of the day;

$10 for a jar of pickles is craziness.

I have noticed by the footprints in the snow that the Yupik children walk one foot in front of the other, while we (non Yupiks) do not, our footprints are diagonal from each other.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sandhill Crane

It's been another day here in Gambell, although you do tend to lose a sense of time when you don't see the sun set or rise at all. It is close to being daylight for 24 hours. I'm suprised that I am actually sleeping through the night. Although, I have been waking up thinking it is about noon and I slept in really late, when it is only like 9 in the morning. I'm not sure if that is really bad jet lag, or my sense of time is just really that off....

Today I went with my sis to the school to help her pack up her classroom and get her stuff ready to ship back to Oklahoma. Not really exciting... After we decided to walk towards the lake to see a part of Gambell I hadn't seen yet. We walked for a little while around the mountain, where I learned the reason why the planes don't fly when they can't see the top of the mountain. Apparently, in the 70's or 80's a plane crashed at the top, where only 2 teachers survived.... that is definitely not something they put in your teacher travel guide. I don't understand why you would fly over that one mountain, especially on a day you can't see it, with a plane that doesn't fly too far off the ground. Not smart. We kept walking and finally stopped about half a mile from the school. I kept thinking, "Where is this lake?" Suprise!!! I was practically standing on it. It was still iced over from winter. We continued walking and passed the shed they call an airport. And a TON of whale, walrus and seal bones along the way. I guess you can't walk anywhere without running into some type of animal remains. The reason you don't notice it, it's probably still covered by the huge snowdrifts around. We then went to the beach, the same beach I went to the day before during the white-out blizzard. And I must say, it looked completely different. The weather was just starting to clear up when we got there, and guess what?! I saw RUSSIA!!! How awesome is that? It wasn't clear enough for it to show in pictures, but I definitely did see it and that is ok with me. We then went to dinner at a neighbors house, we had spaghetti and Matilda chocolate cake. And by that I mean, it looked EXACTLY like the cake in the movie Matilda that the boy was forced to eat by the Trunchbull. It wasn't quite that big, but the cake was almost 3 layers. Afterwards, we played more Arctic Boccie Ball, and then called it a day. Not much entertainment, but the sightseeing was good enough.

If you are wondering about my title of this post. That is my Yupik name I was given by my sister's class. I am not sure how to write it in Yupik, but I shall find out soon!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I am not a "freeper"

Well, I've spent my first 2 days in Gambell. And I must say, it is crazy cold!! Yesterday I met a lot of the natives while helping my sister out with her school day. We played Mafia (which is a game I've played a few times with my sorority sisters). Instead of it being called Mafia, we named it Twilight because apparently her kids love that movie. What should have been a fun game, turned bad quickly. Not many of the kids were taking it seriously or were really actually trying at all. About half way through the day the kids were turning into little devils. The worst group of kids I have met in my life. While yes, some were actually kind and would do their work, the others would just slack off. How they made it to 5/6 grade is beyond me. They use words like "goodly" instead of better. My favorite is them calling Walmart bags "thank you bags". I guess it is some language translation that is off from what it should be... The end of the day couldnt come fast enough. At 2 every Friday they have Yupik dancing, (their culture). They even let people join in on the dances, which means I was definitely down there to try it. Apparently my sister has been Yupik in a past life, because everyone loves her Yupik dancing. I, however, was not blessed with this type of gene, and was pretty much terrible at it. But at least I tried!

Today, I woke up at 9 am, thinking it was at least 11. WRONG! I guess the jet lag is keeping with me for a little while. We were going to head to the school today to get some work done (yes, school on a Saturday). Only because the school has way better internet than her apartment. Well, we waited to long, and before we knew it, it was a white-out blizzard and you couldn't see 10 feet in front of you. We just layed around for a few hours, not really doing much besides playing board games and just packing up some stuff in the apartment. About 4, my sis and I decided to adventure out into the blizzard and walk to the beach. So I put on my heavy winter gear, and by "mine" I mean my sis' gear and we headed out. It wasn't too cold, the temperature was probably in the teens. But the wind was killer. It blew me all the way to the beach. While there we saw this figure coming from somewhere in the blizzard. It was my sis' roomate of all people just wandering around. We took a few pictures and headed back because it was getting a little worse. It was really hard for me to get back, I guess I'm too light here, and the went kept pushing me 2 steps back for every step I took. I eventually made it. :) Then we again, just hung out in the apartment. Funny thing, my sisters wool socks are almost completely warn through at the soles. They look like little faces at the end, so we took some pictures. I named her right one Artemis and her left one Jean-Paul... yes, we are just that bored. We eventually got so bored, we decided to go outside and play Bocci Ball. Let's just say, it was the most epic Bocci Ball game EVER!

So far I have not had any whale, or seal, or anything that screams "Alaska" so far. I'm not quite sure when I will be trying this food, but I have a feeling it is not too far in the future.

Random thought of the day: Why do they put holes in the middle of crackers??