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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Welcome to...Quinhagak!

I'm not exactly sure, but I think that sign says 'Welcome to Quinhagak Elementary'. I was able to complete Number 19 on the Birthday list on Monday when I spent the night in Quinhagak. I was traveling on school business to help conduct SIOP training in the village, therefore, I slept at the school. I have slept in schools on other school trips before, but always as a chaperone for a student activity. This is the first time I slept in a school that was completely empty. I thought it was going to be a little creepy, but it wasnt.
After landing on the dirt and gravel runway in Quinhagak, the airline agent met me there to give me a ride into town and drop me off at the school. The airport is about 2 miles or so out of town. The picture above is the view from the front steps of the school.
After getting there, I unloaded my stuff and took a walk to scope out the village. I saw the dog team above getting a workout by pulling this 4 wheeler to get ready for mushing season which is right around the corner. Below is the power plant for the village. It is diesel operated, just like ours here in Bethel.
I walked out to see how close to the Bering Sea the little village was. It sits on a little inlet right off of the ocean. It was very pretty. I was hoping for a beach that I could take a walk on, but being part of a river delta means that the land is mostly marshy.
There were alot of grassy and muddy areas, but no beach. I did see quite alot of birds. The National Wildlife Refuge that we live in is the largest in the U.S. and has the largest numbers of migratory birds than anywhere else.
These are just some plain old seagulls. Most of the interesting birds have already flown or started to fly south for the winter.
The Kanektok River flows next to the town and out to the sea. It was all very peaceful.
I walked along this muddy little path next to the water hoping to find something resembling a beach so that I could collect some sand. I had even picked up a plastic grocery bag off the ground along my walk so that I would be ready to collect some sand if I came across it.
And finally, I found this little tiny beach. It was only about 10 feet wide and was off of the river rather than the ocean, but I collected some sand and have it currently in a bowl on my kitchen window sill drying so that it can be put into a jar.
There was a small little piece of land where a couple of boats were docked nearby.
Another boat ashore a very grassy area and the village in the background.
This shows there main little boat dock, which was really just a small slough off of the main river that veered in toward town. Most of the boats were parked here.
A drying rack with some sort of fish drying, but I'm not sure what. It looked like something out of a horror movie.
Another beautiful view of the river leading out to the Bering Sea. I was surprised by the current of the river. It was flowing very fast.
The village dock allows the loading and unloading of small boats and barges.
I think this is a perfect example of the influence of the modern day white people. Here are these people who live in a house that is not much more than a shack and yet, they have this satellite dish. Just looking at it seems like a huge culture clash. It just makes me shake my head and wonder.
The local church. I'm not sure of the denomination. There were no signs or any indications, at least none that gave me any clues...Russian Orthodox, Moravian, Catholic...etc. I dont know.
I was quite surprised that the entire village had piped water and sewer. See all of the silver tubes? That is the insulative wrapping around the pipes. They have to be above ground because they cant be placed in the permafrost.
Someone told me that the population of the town was between 800-900. It is a fairly large village, but I knew that already when I was told that the school had 18 teachers. That's alot. I think they said that the school had about 240 students. There were alot of kids outside playing around town.
One of the things that I noticed right away as I walked through the village was that almost all of the vehicles on the road seemed to be 4 wheelers and that it was mostly young men driving and hanging around the village. I did not see any adult men around the village at all and I can only assume that it must have been because all of the responsible older men were out for the long holiday weekend hunting and fishing and doing the things they need to in order to take care of their families, while the young men just hung around town riding the 4 wheelers.
I good majority of the houses looked like the one in the picture above. Very standard, very basic, up off the ground with piped water and sewer.

Overall my trip was good. Pretty uneventful, but good.


KuskoMama said...

They have a really nice playground! I've seen the village playgrounds in Napaskiak and Kwethluk and they were pretty... depressing so I'm impressed that such a far-flung village has a decent playset.

It also doesn't look much different from the other villages I've seen... I guess I expected more variety with a coastal village.

Anonymous said...

thats so cool....i dont think i could have slept in a school all by myself. Well have a good week at school it was so nice to talk to you today!! I will call you later!!

love ya