Dose of Awesome # 277

The community of Kuujjuaq came together yesterday to welcome the competitors in this year’s Ivakkak dogsled race at the finish line. The race began in Quaqtaq, and went through Kangirsuk, Aupaluk, Tasiujaq, before finishing here.

1. Awesome was an early school closure that allowed everybody to head to Stewart Lake to welcome the Ivakkak teams. Team 10 was the first to arrive in Kuujjuaq, but team 7 won the race.

Waiting for the first team to arrive.

Team 10, from Puvirnituq.

2. Awesome was a mid-week afternoon of snowshoeing, thanks to the early school closure. Since I’d gone in early to get some work done in my classroom before school began, I decided to take advantage of some amazing weather and get a few more hours of snowshoeing in. I went for a beautiful 3 hour loop through Nuuvuk Bay and by the marina. What I love about that loop is that every time, it can be so different, as the land is so vast.

Snow drifts and tree shadows inspired me.

3. Awesome was progress made with a challenging student – thanks to an awesome and dedicated team of people and their support. Sometimes things take time, and sometimes lots of it, but this, I hope, goes to show that if you don’t give up, great things can happen.


Dose of Awesome # 269

If we fast-forward 24 hours, I’d flown from Reykjavik to Montréal (7 hours, plus a 5 hour layover in Boston), slept 4 hours in a Dorval hotel, and endured the excruciatingly early 5 hour flight from Montréal to New Orleans, Louisiana. Just before leaving for Iceland, my boyfriend and I had decided to spend a week together in the south. After finding an unbeatable deal on Expedia, we decided to spend it in New Orleans.

But the first thing I had to do upon arrival was deal with a minor case of jetlag. Mixed with severe lack of sleep and the shock of going from Iceland’s dry, crisp nordic climate to the stifling humidity of America’s south, the 5 hour time difference seemed a thousand times greater, and I knew I wouldn’t make it very long. So, after a late lunch of po’ boys at a shop near our hotel, I enjoyed an epic nap. In the meantime, my boyfriend was busy on Google planning a surprise evening for the two of us out in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Five hours later, rested and freshly showered, I joined him in the lounge of our hotel where we commenced our evening out with a cocktail. The rest of our surprise evening out consisted of a walk down Bourbon Street with a stop and another cocktail at the Old Absinthe House, a walk along the Mississippi River, dinner at the Crescent City Brewhouse, dueling pianos and “hurricanes” at Pat O’Brien’s piano bar, and a live jazz performance at the Jazz Preservation Hall.






Our second day in New Orleans took us for much-needed haircuts, followed by some shopping. Our first order of shopping business: shorts. We both expected New Orleans to be hot, but, living in Canada’s north, neither of us were even remotely prepared for this level of heat.


We spent the rest of our day souvenir shopping and walking through Jackson Square before dinner at the highly recommended and extremely popular Red Fish Grill.



Day three consisted of a 3 hour demonstration class on how to cook authentic jambalaya, gumbo soup, bread pudding and pralines at the New Orleans School of Cooking, and an afternoon at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.





On our fourth day, we went on a cruise along the Mississippi River on the Steamboat Natchez (complete with lunch and live jazz), and escaped the heat for the afternoon with a visit to the Voodoo Museum and the Museum of Southern Food and Beverages. In the evening, we met up with an old friend at Café du Monde for coffee and beignets.



A slight change of plans on our last day had us enjoying an airboat ride on the bayou (we were supposed to kayak, but this was cancelled on account of the heat). Though initially disappointed, we were grateful not only for a last-minute spot on an airboat, but also for a bit of wind as we propelled through the bayou. We even got to hold a baby alligator.




By the time we boarded the shuttle back to the airport for our flight home, we really felt like we’d made the most of our time in New Orleans.

Dose of Awesome # 258

I arrived at Hlemmur Square hostel close to 1:00 am, exhilarated but exhausted, and half-ready to fork over any amount necessary for a private room. After the trip I’d just had (see last post), I couldn’t fathom sharing a dorm with 5 strangers, no matter how much money it’d save me. However, stars aligned, and the universe spared me 40000 isk – I was blessed with a 6 bed dorm to myself for the night.

Despite losing an entire day in Reykjavik, I was still able to see and do almost everything I’d hoped to do. I had to sacrifice the National Museum of Iceland and two out of three parts of the Reykjavik Art Museum, but it was too beautiful to spend all my time indoors anyway.

I kicked off my first day in Reykjavik with a lift to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja church. Built between 1945 and 1986, it was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape. It is the largest church in the country, and provides one of the best 360 degree views of Reykjavik.


Reykjavik 1

Next, I went to the National Gallery of Iceland to take in some Icelandic art. Currently exhibiting selected works of narrative art by contemporary Icelandic artists, the National Gallery was small, but interesting.

Reykjavik 01

I had my first taste of traditional Icelandic meat soup, with lamb on flatbread at Café Loki. Then, I set off on a walk around the perimeter of the city which took me through the Harpa concert hall, past the Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture, and all the way back to the other end of Laugavegur (one of two main shopping streets, and the street on which my hostel stood).

Reykjavik 3

My next stop was the Icelandic Phallological Museum – home of the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts (I figured, why not?)

Over a coffee at Kaffitár, I realized that I had just enough time to take in one of the three locations of the Reykjavik Art Museum (I went to Hafnarhúsið) for more Icelandic art. I had just enough time – I finished just as it closed.

Reykjavik 0

A light dinner of Noodle Station soup (I was trying to be frugal but it wasn’t, really), I returned to the hostel to discover I had a roommate – a man from Korea whose name I never learned. It turned out that we were both planning on walking the entire path along the water and back, so we went together. Like me, he was in Iceland for the hiking, and was wrapping up several months of worldwide travel. This was about the only time we crossed paths during my entire stay in Reykjavik, but it was a nice way to spend an evening and end a fantastic first day in Iceland.

Reykjavik 4

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 161

1. Awesome was sharing a lovely meal with all of my colleagues to conclude yesterday’s ped day, as well as another school year. Nakurmiimaarialuk to all of you for all of your team work, hard work and support throughout the school year. I wish everyone a fantastic summer vacation!

2. Awesome was receiving this thoughtful little thank you gift – beaded kamik earrings made by Lucina Cain.


3. Awesome was making a new friend – another connection in Kuujjuaq!

4. Awesome was chatting with, and watching as a bunch of Inuit ladies sewed tents at the culture centre yesterday evening. Also awesome was witnessing real, unstaged throat singing (anytime I’d heard throat singing before, it was part of a concert or a cultural show. This time, it was out of the blue and for the fun of it, which made it all the more authentic and cool).

100 Days of Awesome – Day 91

1. Awesome was being able to lend a helping hand yesterday morning, as the morning was quiet and gave me plenty of opportunity to finish everything I needed to finish, and then some.

2. Awesome was a fruitful trip to hunter support, where I found the perfect red duffle that I need for the lining of my kamik (something I was told would be difficult to find).

3. Awesome was, with the combined help of my Inuit colleagues and the sales representative at Bill Worb Furs in Winnipeg, ordering everything else that I need for my kamik. It should be here in a week!


4. Awesome was an evening of sewing, tea and reflection.

A few weeks ago, when I was in Montréal for the union congress, I had dinner and a very insightful conversation with someone, from which one specific question remains very clear in my mind. At the time I couldn’t answer it, but as some new developments are taking shape, I find myself better able to. I will write about this soon.

100 Days of Awesome – Day 90

1. Awesome was teaching a perfectly smooth Music lesson yesterday morning. This was the second Music lesson I’d ever taught in my life, and I have to say that I can’t wish it could have gone any better. My students were so engaged and cooperative – more than I even expected.

We started with a bit of a review of our class rules and the vocabulary we learned just before leaving for Easter vacation. Then we learned the note naming mnemonics (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, and FACE). After a bit of worksheet practice naming notes, I gave them their recorders and taught them notes B, A, and G (the top three holes).

2. Awesome was an afternoon out on the land learning how to build an igloo with one of the elders of the village (and the father of one of my students).

1 Igloo

Moses cutting and shaping snow blocks.

6 Igloo

I help fill in the cracks with snow from the outside.

14 Igloo

Almost finished (this took several hours).

15 Igloo
Moses cuts a hole and emerges from inside.

16 Igloo
I’m in an igloo!

My friend Mary and I inside the igloo.

3. Awesome was cooking a deliciously successful batch of chicken shawarma. In Moncton, I bought all the spices required (under the advice of the friendly cook at the Blue Olive – a Turkish restaurant/imported food shop). Unsure of how much of each to mix into a base of olive oil, I winged it, a bit nervous that I’d mess it up royally and concoct something intolerable. I didn’t though – it turned out deliciously!

100 Days of Awesome – Day 89

1. Awesome was the excitement in the room yesterday morning when my students walked in our classroom and found a mini Montréal Canadiens hockey stick on each of their desks, and their gratitude when I gave them a bit of time at the end of class to personalize them with coloured tape, and play with them.

2. Awesome was having a belated Easter egg hunt with my students (I couldn’t get any chocolate eggs in Tasiujaq), and afterward making this thank you card for my mom, who bought the eggs for me to pick up when I went to Moncton.


3. Awesome was taking my foot measurements and my requests to the lady who will be sewing my kamik. Now I just need to wait patiently until they’re finished, resisting the urge to wish Winter were longer just so I’d be able to wear them.

4. Awesome was going for a run yesterday evening to find:

1. The road completely without ice (making my evening run much less treacherous) than usual.
2. The sun still shining bright until past 7 PM (allowing me to relax for a bit after school rather than rush out for a run on days with beautiful weather).
3. The temperature mild enough to bring my iPod Touch (I haven’t been bringing it on my outdoor runs because I didn’t want the frigid temperatures to suck the battery life out of it. I took some photos:

Run“Slow down” sign at the top of the hill on the way back from the airport.
Run 2The view toward Tasiujaq and Atsatuujaq (the marina).
Run 3My face is frozen and my glasses are foggy.