Awesome # 173: Traveling

Thursday evening, after a long chartered flight from Tasiujaq to Montréal, my summer of nomadism had officially begun. Departing on Tuesday, I will be spending the next several weeks making may way from Paris to Rome – a trip that will involve 6 days in France’s capital, 4 days in Chamonix in the heart of the French alps, a 10-day hike around Mont Blanc, a scenic train trip through part of Switzerland, and extensive visits to Venice, Florence, Rome, Napoli and Pompeii.

During my upcoming travels, my daily posts of awesome will be jotted down in my travel journal, awaiting posting upon my return, which I’d decided to do so as to indulge in my impending state of internetlessness – making the most of my travels and spending as little time as possible in internet cafés. Thus, this will be my last post until August.

À la prochaine!

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Awesome # 172: Flying Days

Today is a flying day.

In roughly 6 hours, my colleagues from Tasiujaq, Quaqtaq and Kangiqsuujjuaq fly via chartered plane to Montréal to commence our 8-week summer vacation. At dinnertime (assuming there will be no delays), we will be safely deposited into the busy and sweltering metropolis, where I will be spending the next couple of days hanging out with my mom and brushing up on my français.

Flying days are awesome because no matter how early I have to wake up on a flying day, I’m always in a fantastic mood, when the excitement of commencing a vacation overshadows the adrenaline that flows in the last-minute rush. And, when you fly in a chartered plane such as I will today, that excitement is increased exponentially as you’re surrounded with colleagues who are undoubtedly at least just as excited.

Happy flying day to all my colleagues!

My colleagues and I last year, about to board a chartered plane to Kuujjuaq to commence a vacation.

Awesome # 171: Chocolate Fondue

After our hike to Atsatujaq, my friend surprised me with homemade chocolate fondue, in which we dipped an assortment of the freshest fruit I’ve had since I was in Toronto in April. It may have been 10:30 PM, but this chocolate lovin’ gal just couldn’t resist.

Chocolate fondue has to be one of the greatest creations derived from the cocoa bean – it’s delicious, it’s romantic and it’s fun. It was an awesome way to end a wonderful day.

This was not our chocolate fondue – ours was better. But, for the sake of imagery, here is some chocolate fondue:

Awesome # 170: Hiking at Twilight

Last Thursday evening, after a fantastic dinner of shrimp stir fry and rice noodles, my friend and I went for an evening hike to the top of Atsatujaq. Mosquitos and my poor navigational skills (which brought us up the mountain via the steepest possible route) aside, it was a beautiful hike, complete with a close-but-not-too-close encounter with a black bear and the most breathtaking view of the Leaf Bay and surrounding mountains I’ve seen yet on this particular hike.

Unfortunately my camera batteries died before we even approached the foot of the mountain.

Twilight is probably the most beautiful time of day to hike. At twilight, the lighting and the temperature are perfect and, in the arctic, you don’t have to worry so much about the sun actually setting. Hiking at twilight is my second favourite way to hike (after, of course, hiking at dawn).

Since my camera batteries died the other night before I could take many photos on our hike to Atsatujaq, I’ll post a photo that I took a few summers ago. This is the Yukon River from the top of the Midnight Dome – a photo that I took on summer solstice 2009 after a post-work twilight hike to the top.

Awesome # 169: The Last Day of School

While Friday was the last day of school for academia, today is, for all intents and purposes, the real last day of school – unless you count the two PED days we have coming up.

We will spend our morning supervising special activities that we have planned for the students (movies and popcorn or “teachers versus students” volleyball) followed by a school clean-up and a picnic lunch. This afternoon we will have a graduation ceremony.

The last day of school is awesome for obvious reasons. School’s (almost) out for the summer!

Awesome # 167: Elders

I’ve had a friend visiting the past few days, so I’ve, by choice, fallen a bit behind in my posts of awesome. No need to fret, however, as I have a wide selection of awesomes with which I will catch myself up. First off: elders.

Yesterday was International Elder Appreciation Day, and we celebrated this day in Tasiujaq with prayer, followed by everyone shaking hands with each of Tasiujaq’s elders, then a parade around the village.

Elders are awesome because they bridge the gap between traditional native culture and native culture in today’s society in which much tradition would be, without elders, entirely lost. Elders have the closest connection to native history, teachings, beliefs and life on the land.

For everything you do to help preserve the beauty that is traditional Inuit culture, nakurmiik.

Happy (belated) Elder’s Day!