Saturday, May 20, 2006

Whale pictures

We came in again. The ice was coming in pretty fast. But not before we saw loads more WHALES!! This is how close the beluga were. Some of them came from under the ice we were sitting on and I could see their shapes in the water like ghosts.

We saw some bowheads really close too. My crew haven't caught one yet although other crews have. The quota is 22 whales landed or struck and lost. We will hopefully get to go out once more if the current changes in time. I ate a pork chop sandwhich and a hot dog. It was scarey but the chef was Leith who is three times bigger than me and very very funny but can look quite scarey too when he wants. They couldn't believe I'd never eaten a hot dog before and not eaten a pork chop for 25 years.

I've never seen proper teamwork in action before. It is amazing. Feel like I am growing up just watching them. If someone makes a mistake or something breaks or the weather's wrong no-one gets angry. They just get on with fixing it and are always laughing. Everyone looks out for everyone else, works really hard and there's no ego stuff going on. It's so cool. And when I get things wrong no-one gets impatient - they just explain it - even if they're in a rush. All the different whaling crews are constantly on the radio talking about where the whales are and what the weather's doing. I helped saw the boat sled which broke. They said they were really glad I was there and they would miss me when I went and I am tough (ha ha HA totally unbelievable coming from them). I felt SO happy.

This is a sod house about 6 miles from Barrow. Where people still lived in the '60s. They only had seal oil for heating/lamps. The tundra grows over the top and keeps you warm(ish). Apparently one of the people here had a pet polar bear that used to pull sleds but they let it go because it kept breaking into the meat shed and eating everything.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Working hard

Oh no! Look what happened to my favourite place to sit in the world!

What a mess. Big ice came in and this happened which is why you leave really quickly when it starts coming. Went out to a different bit with a scientist the other day and he explained how the movements are like watcing plate tectonics in real time. I could see the ice cap i.e. the edge of the bit which goes over the north pole, scraping against the ice I was standing on. Amazing and pretty scarey. it was rumbling and bits were falling off. We didn't stay long. Taking a breather for a few minutes now before we go back out and try to find a better spot. Whaling is hard work. Have been breaking trail and putting up tents and taking them down again and pushing boats up ice hills and trying to sleep when tent is nearly blowing away and losing at cards alot. Feel really sad the ice is melting. It's all slushy and we get wet when we come up to town now. They are getting a bit anxious about the conditions. I think this may be the last time we go out. But they've only caught 2 whales so far and are pretty worried that's not enough for the whole town.

This is an indication/warning about how my fashion sense has changed. I got given a wolf/beaver-skin hat by Billy. That's Reilly on the left. It's SO warm but not sure how it will go down in London. Gotta go we're off...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Waiting again

This is my favourite place to sit in the world. I've spent hours and hours there.

The ice started to close up again so we had to come in, in the middle of the night. Here's everyone packing up in a hurry.

Got told off for trying to film - am generally recording less and less and just trying to join in. Drove a snowmachine pulling a sled over some rocky bits and pushed the boat when it got stuck. The trail is much rougher because some of the snow has melted. The whales just come up as semicircles above the water, like wheels going round and round. They don't stick their tails up. But sometimes they breach (jump) if they are playing around. Haven't seen that yet. Made another whale at the heritage Centre. This one's for Billy whose birthday it is tomorrow. They said it's much better and its an Inutuk(?) a small round one - the type they like to catch.

Found humous and organic salad in the shop. But when I came back there was some very hardcore stuff going on in the kitchen involving whale tongue and geese. I gave it my best shot. Eli thought it was very funny that he could make me scream every time he waved a goose head around.

Yes that IS a goose neck I am holding. Wonder if I've got bird flu. Am now addicted to Golden Girls from waiting for the wind to change. Not the self development I'd expected. But am developing different conversation topics... Billy was telling me how a grizzly bear bit his boat in half the other day and I said 'Oh what a pain I hate grizzlies' without thinking and carried on boiling the ice. And I now like eating caribou and it's normal for me to find whale skin in my teeth. But I have managed not to eat spam yet. Julia sends 'big hugs from Barrow at the top of the world' to everyone and especially my mum. Sang her 'she moved through the fair' she really liked it and I told her you sing it better. Some of of the Inupiat people have been telling me about their Irish ancestry because of the commercial whalers who came in the past. Some of them married and stayed.