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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Kamchatka, Russia - 23 July, 2003

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Final camp site N5557.656' E16014.641' 1,030 meters .
Finish Esso settlement (guest house) N5555.426' E15841.532' 510 meters 140 km (by 6WD truck)

Total (by train):

766 km

Total (Kamchatka):

799 km

Total (other):

139 km

Total:

1,684 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and warm/hot.  Cool overnight.

 

 

We wake up around 7 AM, but just hang around in our tent.  We have not yet heard anything about the truck, so we have no desire to venture out of our tent - the number of bugs have not diminished at all. In fact, maybe they have increased in number, attracted by all the hot blooded mammals hiding out in their tents.  A little bit after 8 AM, we hear Alan, a member of the group howling in frustration as he is tormented by the small beasts as he walks around outside.  This just further encourages us to continue sheltering in our tent.

 

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The truck finally arrives at 8:40 AM.  But we continue to remain in our tent until we hear word that we will be leaving this morning.  So, we finally plan on emerging from our tent at around 9 AM.  This is a major operation - we want to make sure our defenses are maximised.  We dress and pack up all our stuff in the tent.  For the first time on this trip, we apply our Jungle Juice 100 DEET while in the tent.  We do not normally do this as we are afraid that any spilt DEET may melt the fabric of our tent.  This is powerful stuff.  But these are extreme circumstances.  After applying our DEET and making sure all buttons are done up, we put the head nets on and venture outside.  The good news is that the defensive measures seem to be working for now.  It is interesting to note that in less than two weeks in Kamchatka, we have used over half our small bottle of DEET.  During our whole eight months in Africa, we used less than a third of the same bottle.  And in Africa, we were concerned about getting malaria.

 

We shake our tent to try to rid it of the thousands of bugs that have taken up residence on it over the last 16 hours or so.  After packing away our stuff, we head over to the truck to see what is for breakfast.  It is meager - the most interesting thing we are offered is some vodka.  Not sure what the truck brought up in terms of food.  We are getting worried about lunch.  And we are hungry, not having had a proper meal in over 24 hours.

 

We load up the 6 wheel drive truck and everyone piles into the passenger compartment.  A very strange scene then takes place - everyone is beating the air, the windows and the seats.  If you did not know the space had been filled with bugs, you would think these people were mad or blood thirsty.  No, we are just getting rid of all the bugs that invaded our space.

 

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We head off just before 11 AM.  It is a miserable ride.  It is hot and sunny out.  The compartment has only two small windows and we cannot open them for the first stretch of the trip.  The temperature in the compartment soon rises to virtually unbearable levels.  We are dripping with sweat and everyone is exhausted from the heat.  It is a miserable ride through the birch and fir tree forest.  After about three hours of driving, we finally turn onto the main dirt road and can open the two small windows.  But it does not have much effect - the heat is just so great that it has no effect.  We take the same ferry back over the Kamchatka River as we did when we came in.

 

Just before 3 PM we stopped for lunch.  It was pitiful.  A small loaf of bread was all that was available, so we all had less than half a slice.  Three small tins of herring.  Some chocolate and biscuits.  And tea, of course.  We are now getting very hungry.  Not sure why the truck was not better stocked with food.  We were happy to be on our way after a break of about an hour.  At least the truck has cooled of a bit now.

 

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We arrive in the settlement of Esso just before 5 PM.  We go to a guest house that will be putting us up for the night.  We have a bit over two hours to get our rooms, sort out our stuff and have a shower.  It was nice to take a real shower after being on the trek for about two weeks.  We also take advantage of the sun shine to air out some of our stuff.  The best part of this place - there seem to be virtually no bugs and mosquitoes.  At least, there seemed to be virtually none to us, after having just come from mosquito hell.

 

At 7 PM we head out for a cultural show.  We are not quite sure what to expect - some of these types of shows that we have seen on our travels can be good, some can be a waste of time.  We walk through the dirt lanes of the settlement, admiring some of the wooden buildings and their small fields.

 

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Soon we arrive at a large, run down concrete Soviet style structure.  This must be the theater.  Inside, in one of the halls, they are waiting for us.  The place must be able to sit over 200 people, so there is plenty of place for us.  For the next hour and a half we are wonderfully entertained by the dancing and singing of the native people.  These are the people that have been in this area for hundreds of years, having arrived well before the Russians.  They look very much like the Eskimos and northern Native Americans.  They may be related, in fact.

 

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They perform a number of different dances and songs that are very interesting and different.  We cannot remember them all, but they had the drummers dance, the throat singing (which was developed to imitate the sounds of reindeer), the interaction of lovers, the reindeer herders dance, the seagull dance and the sea animal dance.  They were very unique and interesting.  After the performance, the head of the dance troupe came down to the floor and gave a small talk and allowed us to ask all the questions that we wanted to.  The culture is on the verge of extinction, with virtually none of the children speaking the native languages.  There are a number of different tribes, including the Even people.

 

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We return back to the guest house just before 9 PM.  Boy, are we hungry and we cannot wait for dinner.  Dinner is served to us in a small, intimate room down in the basement.  We dig right in and get our fill of food.

 

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After dinner, the vodka starts to flow.  This is the last night we are all together, so we have to take advantage of it.  We have a number of toasts going back and forth between the guide and various members of the group.  It is good fun and we toast things ranging from women to world peace.  We go so quickly through the vodka, that they have to run out and get another bottle.  But this is soon finished off and a bit after midnight, it is time to head back up to our room, where we organise our stuff and get ready for bed.  We have an early start in the morning. We sleep with windows open and our sleep is not interrupted or disturbed at all by any insects.  It was so nice.

 

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