After all the stress and excitement of Friday, we took it easy this weekend and designated Saturday and Sunday as super relaxed and lazy days. We slept in, had delicious breakfasts, and stayed in all day writing blogs and checking items off our respective to-do lists. Today got a little more exciting though when I got to cross another item off my Alaska food bingo, sea urchin! Or aguĝnax̂ as it’s called in #NiiĝuĝimTunuu. Sea urchin has always been an important part of the Unangax̂ diet since it’s a good source of vitamins and helps prevent scurvy. Crystal brought over some freshly picked sea urchin and demonstrated how to cut them open them and then scoop the roe out with your thumb. I’ve been really excited about trying sea urchin all summer, but when it actually happened today I’ll admit I was nervous. Especially because everyone else tried it first and was staring me down to see my reaction. Apparently no one thought I would like it, and didn’t think I could handle putting my finger in the shell to scoop it out of the goo. But I actually quite loved it! Especially eaten with kelp, yum! The #WAYK team had mixed feelings, but there were a few of us who clearly liked it more. No complaints though, more for me! For anyone who has not eaten sea urchin, my best explanation is that it’s like salty jello…but yummier. For now enjoy this photo of Erin and I enjoying some tasty sea urchin, but when I’m home ask me to show you the hilarious video of me trying sea urchin for the first time, my reaction is pretty much priceless. #WAYKsummerATKA #Atka #Alaska
Sometimes life on an island is a blessing and sometimes it’s a struggle. Thursday night on our hike Bobbi and I chatted at the top the mountain overlooking this beautiful view about how incredible it was to be somewhere so wonderfully quiet and isolated. The very next morning that isolation turned into a challenge. Friday morning the power in our house went out and since it was the day before the long weekend started we were quite anxious to get it fixed so that we didn’t spend 3 days without electricity. While Evan was off dealing with that crisis, a new one appeared: one of my dental fillings fell out. Um…what?!? How do you fix your tooth on a remote Alaskan Island with no access to a dentist? And compound that issue with having no electricity (meaning no telephone) and a Canadian holiday which means even if you had a phone you couldn’t call your regular dentist because they’re not at work. While I tried not to panic we went to the school and googled all sorts of remedies for lost fillings and checked the flight schedule and availability of dentists in the closest city Dutch Harbor. Luckily I was able to get in contact with my wonderful dentist in Calgary who calmed me down and told me I should be fine until I get home in August. Phew, crisis averted! While I didn’t appreciate the stress of the day it definitely made me grateful for the amenities I take for granted at home and also helped me appreciate the complexity of living on an island. Sometimes the “simple life” isn’t so simple after all #edgeofthefirstworldproblems #WAYKsummerATKA #Atka #Alaska #BeringSea
Thursday was yet again a pretty awesome day. In the morning I learned how to lead our #NiiĝuĝimTunuu Go Fish game, Chalida! so that I could teach the beginners at our very first Community Language Night (CLN). Then, in the afternoon I got to lead my very first Niiĝuĝim Tunuu language hunt! Erin, Timothy, and I had a great time drinking tea with the elders and talking about rotten apples. Yum! After all of our prep I’m happy to report that our first CLN Thursday evening went great! Lots of community members joined, including more fluent speakers! Somehow I ended up volunteering to play games with all the little kids that came while the adults took part in language lessons. Not sure what I was thinking but thank goodness there were only 5 kids because after 40 minutes of rainbow tag I was exhausted. The best part, however, was at the end of the night when we did our Plus/Deltas, which is a feedback session with all the participants. One of the kids said that his plus (the part he enjoyed) for the evening was “that the kids got to run around wild and stuff” and all I could do was laugh and clarify to all the parents that it “wasn’t too wild”. Luckily everyone got a taste of our “wild” language games though when we ended our language night with a giant 18-person game of sit, sit, run! So much fun! And if you’re keeping track, basically all I did this week was play games #imabigkid To cap of the night Bobbi and I went for a hike and scoped out some sailboats anchored by Old Village. While we were admiring the view our night got even better when we saw two killer whales swimming around the harbour! Such beautiful and majestic animals! #Thursdaysarethebestday #languageisfun #thisishowlanguageslive #WAYKsummerAtka
Another day, another language game. Today we played my absolute favourite language game, Rainbow Tag, in #NiiĝuĝimTunuu for the first time! This was my favourite game that we played in Unangam Tunuu in St. Paul last summer and I thought it was going to be easy for me this summer because I already knew the vocabulary. Unfortunately for me there’s a dialect difference between St. Paul and Atka and two of the colours chidĝix̂ and chidĝaayux̂ are swapped, which caused my brain endless confusion today. Also, apparently us Canadians say “tag” funny according to all the Americans (as well as pasta, bagel, and saga) and since we’re seriously outnumbered it looks like Erin and I will be enduring some teasing over the summer every time we ask to play this game. I think it’s worth it though because I love rainbow tag and it doesn’t matter that #itsforthelanguage because I’m in it to win it! #languageisfun #butonlyifyouwin #WAYKsummerAtka
Although I love the days that I get to learn something new in #NiiĝuĝimTunuu it’s also nice to have days where you just get to perfect your accent on the language you’ve already learned and prove to the fluent speakers that you’re actually getting it. Tuesday was a pretty great day for just this reason and to really see the progress we’ve been making. In the morning I helped finish the lesson we started working on last week about things we were making, which ended up including some verbs in the past tense, checked it with our fluent speakers, and taught it to a new person. In the afternoon I made tea for Susanna and Crystal at the same time again and used the plurals quite successfully. Then we played another round of Niiĝuĝim Tunuu sit, sit, run and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally gotten that tongue-twister of a word, xaadgnaagiixtxichix, down pact! I love this picture because it so perfectly captures my emotions just seconds before Evan tagged me in sit, sit, run and although I was trying to will him not to tag me, I seem to have also already accepted my defeat #itsforthelanguage #WAYKsummerAtka #languageisfun
The theme of the last few days was fish, and this city girl got quite an education and it’s only just beginning! On Saturday Evan and the boys went fishing and came home with 3 halibut that they gutted in the kitchen sink. And they so kindly left a fish head in the fridge for me to find early Sunday morning while making breakfast. That was pleasant. Then Sunday at Korovin Beach some fishermen came in with extra halibut and donated it to us. So far I’ve avoided handling any fish since Mario gutted the halibut and Evan cooked it but I know my time is coming. Salmon spawning is just beginning and I’m hopeful that sometime in the next two months I’ll catch my own fish, no promises I’ll be involved in anything after I reel it in though! Other than eating it, that I won’t pass up! Speaking of cooking, we’ve also been busy at the school the last few days “cooking up” our latest language lesson about how to talk about different sized objects with the possessive marker. On Monday I got to teach this language lesson to the rest of the group with Timothy and we totally rocked it. And seriously, check out that awesome set-up. Hello giant knife #itsforthelanguage #WAYKsummerAtka #NiiĝuĝimTunuu
Sunday was another sunny day and we took advantage of it with a drive out to Korovin beach on the west side of the island to have a bonfire on the beach. We cooked a delicious dinner over the fire: fresh trout and halibut baked with freshly picked beach greens! Yummy! It smelled so good 4 bald eagles hovered the whole evening waiting not-so-patiently for some scraps. Whilst at the beach I got picked up by the local authorities and had my first ever ride in the back of a cop car! Just kidding! Of course I wasn’t actually in trouble but Bill, the Village Public Safety Officer, drove us home so now I can cross that off the bucket list! #WAYKsummerAtka
Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous and sunny day so Bobbi, Erin, and I spent our afternoon frolicking on the beach and playing in the Bering Sea! I admit I wasn’t quite brave enough to actually go swimming, but hopefully sometime this summer we’ll get around to it. To all my Okanagan friends who think I’m missing out on the sun and sand I assure you, I had a pretty great day on this empty beach, with an incredible view! What Atka lacks in warmth it makes up for in scenery! And realistically the water was only a little bit colder than Lake Okanagan anyways! #WAYKsummerAtka #Atka #Alaska #BeringSea
As of today I’ve officially been on this adventure for a month, pretty crazy how fast the time is going by! On Fridays the WAYK team works from home while the local team continues on at the school. Working in my pyjamas might be my favourite way to spend a Friday morning. After a good day of productivity we decided to end our day with some more language learning. I spent an hour making rice krispie treats with Evan and Susanna speaking entirely in #ChinukWawa. Susanna and I make rice krispie treats quite regularly and we’ve got it down to a 15 minute science, but when you’re doing it in immersion apparently it takes an hour and 15 minutes. We had just finished our session in Chinuk when Crystal came over to hang out and we quickly switched over to #NiiĝuĝimTunuu and then spent another hour and a half hunting language from her. Needless to say I was exhausted by the end, but conveniently Crystal taught us how to talk about being tired and even sang us a beautiful Niiĝuĝim Tunuu lullaby! Despite being so tired I decided to stay up just so that I could get this picture of the horizon at exactly midnight since it was such a clear night. It’s not quite midnight sun here in Atka, but it’s pretty darn close! #midnightsun #Atka #Alaska #WAYKsummerAtka
I realize I’ve said this a lot, but Thursday was another one of the best days I’ve had here. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so much. From the moment I woke up till the moment I finally went to bed I had a smile on my face all day. The sun was shining and Susanna and I made a gourmet breakfast of quinoa pancakes and chicken sausage. In the morning we played the hilarious #NiiĝuĝimTunuu version of sit, sit, run, and we made it through more language lessons. We spent our afternoon making tea with some fluent elders which is when the day got even funnier. Erin had to make Susanna a tiny cup of tea and me a huge cup of tea, at the same time! There was a lot going on while we used size terms which we are still getting familiar with, and plurals which we learned for the first time that day! Talk about language jumping jacks! Then Thursday night we did a trial run of the community language night that we’re going to be running every week on Thursday nights. For our first attempt it went really well, and I’m super excited for next week when other community members will be invited to learn Niiĝuĝim Tunuu with us! #thisishowlanguageslive Then Thursday evening Bobbi took Erin and I on an adventure to these beautiful waterfalls! It was a gorgeous evening for a hike and these falls were totally worth the trek! I could have sat and admired the view for hours. #WAYKsummerATKA #Atka #Alaska
Admiring from afar is just not our style though so we decided to adventure some more to get closer. Don’t worry Mom, climbing down to the bottom of the waterfall was totally safe, it was just a vertical cliff with giant rocks at the bottom to catch your fall. Um guys, how do I get back up?
We also got to see the clouds doing pretty things on our hike as the sun set! Atka is a seriously beautiful place!