We’re back! After two months in the remote Arctic, we are reintegrating back into life in the outside world. Sorry to be slow to get in touch with all of you out there on the interwebs – we have a lot of adjusting to do before we can get back to our former lives. Here are the top 10 things that we find weird and why:
- Trees – or shall we call them really big shrubs. What are these tall plants that go above waist height and block the view to the horizon? They are green, way too tall and we don’t like them (well some of us say they do, but I am writing this blog post). Take us back to the beautiful tundra where our view is unobscured. Haydn pined for pines when he was in the Arctic – but he wasn’t there for as long as we were and thus his view of reality is really not relevant here.
- Darkness – aka night. What is this period of the no longer day where the sun disappears and it gets super dark for a while? We have heard about these things called stars and northern lights – which are some sort of lightness during the dark, but we haven’t seen any because it has been cloudy every time it gets dark. The darkness is awkward because you can’t find anything without using some sort of portable lighting device and it is a bit scary because you can’t see if there is a bear behind that shrub over there, or is that a shrub behind that bear over there. I prefer the way things were back up in the Arctic with light all the time, though even up there we heard that the darkness was coming.
- Running water – taps. To have water come out of a tap on demand when you turn the handle and flow into a sink is something amazing. You can do dishes, you can wash your hands, you can fill your water bottles and kettles, you can splash yourself or your friends/enemies with water. What is also amazing is that unlike in the Arctic you don’t have to decide whether the water coming out of a tap is drinkable or not – “Is this sauna water, Inuvik water, ice water, snow water or sea water? Perhaps I will taste it to try to find out.”
- Draining water – sinks without slop buckets. It is really something else to be able to use a sink and not to have to check under the counter to see if the bucket is going to over flow. And then to find out that you should have checked before your poured and that now the slop bucket is perilously full and you have to walk with it all the way to the slop pit without spilling the grossest of water all over yourself. Drains are the best!
- Washing with ease – showers and laundry. Up on Qikiqtaqruk, it is a bit of an effort to stay clean and to wash your clothes. Here, on the outside, you can turn on a tap and then wash yourself with water that is the perfect temperature and get clean without having to warm yourself in a sauna for an hour or brave the chilly chilly water of the Arctic ocean. And more amazingly you can put your dirty clothes in these machines with some soap and just press a button and after a period of noisiness your clothes are clean and then into another machine, press the button and after much tumbling and more noise, your clothes are dry. Crazy!
- No radios – out of contact. How do you communicate with each other when you are in different places without channel 69, “the pleasure channel” – no joke, it is the pleasure craft channel in Canada. How can you let everyone on the island know that for example you are going to watch the Princess Bride on your computer in the Trappers cabin? “Qikiqtaqruk, Qikiqtaqruk, this is the Trappers. We are watching the best movie ever – The Princess Bride – do you want to join?” We hear there are these things called cell phones or mobile phones, but we haven’t got back to that kind of advanced technology yet. Instead we are just relying on yelling, which works okay in relatively close proximity. We are yet to test it in cities. We assume it will be fine.
- Trust worthy vegetables – no more rotting food. Not having to smell every freshies item and frozen-ish food to find out if it has gone off or not is a great luxury. Back on Qikiqtaruk our abundant food was everywhere: in “the store” in the warehouse, in a freezer that is turned off, in the propane fridge, in the Rangers’ freezer, in the ice house down in the permafrost. You had to always be thinking where your food was going to come from for each meal and whether it was okay to eat or not. But, at least all that food was “free” once on the island! Unlike here where you have to pay with this thing called money that mostly seems to be on these plastic cards with pin codes, that you can’t remember anymore, so you can’t actually pay, which is very awkward.
- Now we can talk to anyone in the world – people here, people there, people via the “internet”. Life used to be very safe, we only had the people on the island and our satellite phone e-mail to communicate. Here any stranger can just show up where ever you are and surprise you: “Hey, I just drove here with my car.” “Hey, I just swam here from over there.” “Hey, I am just calling you on Skype.” Back on the island, you could always hear the plane coming – forewarning you and thus keeping you safe from surprises. Though, those sailing boats were pretty stressfully surprising when they would just show up in the cove in the middle of the “night”.
- Electricity without noise. It is pretty crazy to have unlimited electricity without the noise of a generator growling in the background ruining the Arctic silence. Here you can just plug your technology into the wall or flip a switch and a light comes on – lights they are weird too, I miss good old candles when the light was a bit dimmer. Here, you don’t have to fill up with gas/petrol to get the electrons flowing, you don’t have to get the power chords all sorted and make sure the radios, drone batteries and computers are all charging when the genny is on. Electricity is almost as cool as running water.
- And finally, the internet! Writing this blog post and posting it ourselves without having to send it out via satellite phone to someone on the “outside” who can post it for us, not being able to add in the actual photos, and then not be able to see the final product. In general, the internet is very weird. We even found that this “Google” guy who knows things better than even Isla (or so Santo says).
So, after long weighing and careful consideration, we have decided that we can stay on the outside for now, and that the good things balance out the weird and scary. It is going to be an effort trying to understand this vast modern world with its many demands: Pokemon Go, fast cars, software updates and social media… Luckily, on our return, we have found that our friends and family are still around, and have waited for our return for all of this time. This support from our loved ones continues to make this transition back to our long-lost lives more than bearable. We are glad to be back with all of you beautiful humans and your crazy technology!
By Isla (with help from Santeri)