Here at Last

Figuring out how to write about this trip has been difficult. The days are so packed, and they change as quickly as the weather. It’s easier to reflect and write about this trip in terms of common themes or activities, rather than day by day. These posts will therefore not necessarily be chronological, and will be delayed, due to a couple of reasons.

First, the internet is a little unpredictable. Usually, the internet connection is smooth and relatively reliable…as long as you’re not trying to stream videos or download files of epic proportions. However, there are certain times throughout the days when the network is overcrowded (e.g. after supper), resulting in slower loading speeds, lost signals, and widespread frustration.

Another reason is that there is just so much going on here that is pulling on different parts of my brain and my heart, and so writing about each day would get messy and wouldn’t actually flow that well. Reflecting on each separate “theme” individually, giving each one its own attention and care, helps me process things more deeply and thoroughly.

I’ll start by reflecting on our first few days, and the process of settling back into life in the North.

The first few days consisted of travel, waiting, and waiting to travel.

After a productive and insightful meeting with our partners at the Dept. of Health and Social Development in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, we still had to wait about 12 hours until our ferry left at midnight. So, we loitered back at the hotel.

Of the 24 hours Oliver and I spent in HV-GB, approximately 20 of those 24 hours were spent in Hotel North 2 — both on the comfy couches in the lounge area, and in Jungle Jim’s Bar and Eatery. It’s not a trip to HV-GB without having at least one meal at Jungle Jim’s. Quite the strange experience to be eating in a tropical-themed restaurant while in the Canadian sub-Arctic.

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We’re big fans of Jungle Jim’s

We filled the rest of our time by working (and also napping) on the aforementioned comfy couches.

The overnight ferry took about 7 in hours total. We stayed out in the main galley area and “slept” on some slightly-more-comfortable-that-airplane-seats-but-still-not-very-comfortable reclining seats. Luckily, the Arkells’ new LP had dropped earlier that day. So, I put my headphones on, turned up the volume, closed my eyes, and listened to that entire album on repeat (Round and Round, some might say) for the next 7 hours. I had a solid four-hour sleep but mostly drifted in and out of dreamland for the entirety of the trip.

I perked up when it was announced that we’d be arriving in Rigolet in 30 minutes. THIRTY MINUTES! I’d been waiting for that moment ever since I’d returned from my last visit back in February. I peered out the window and started to see familiar land formations. Then, the boardwalk came into view and my heart skipped a beat. Or five.

Almost as soon as my feet touched solid ground, I was scooped right back up into a great big bear hug from Sandi. She drove us up to her BnB, where Oliver and I went straight to our rooms and slept for another 4 hours. We then ran down to the store to pick up some food, where we also ran into Inez (our amazing project coordinator) as well as some other familiar faces.

We spent the rest of the day reading, unpacking, and attempting to lay out a game plan of things we needed to do over the next two weeks. Despite the rain that had followed us all the way from HV-GB, Oliver and I headed down to the boardwalk to stretch our stiff legs and start to explore Rigolet, summer edition.

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Rigolet, still sleeping under a blanket of fog

Sunday passed by at about the same slow pace as Saturday. Time seemed to drag on just long enough for me to start missing my loved ones back home, and simultaneously to start feeling antsy to get down to work and into a regular routine up here. Essentially, I felt restless, which is something I’ve never felt on my previous visits.

I woke up the next feeling slightly more energized, a feeling that intensified after I walked up to Inez’s office at the Town Council building and found myself surrounded by familiar, smiling faces. From Monday to Wednesday, I helped Inez with preparations for the Salmon Festival. For any other human being, the sheer amount of organization and coordination required to help put this Festival together would be overwhelming. But Inez is no ordinary human being when it comes to organization and coordination. She was truly in her element last week, and it was awe-inspiring to see her in action.

Working alongside Inez here in Rigolet is such a joy (and not just because I get to snack on her delicious candy stash all day long). When I’m in Ontario, we have to communicate via phone and email, so I am very grateful to be spending this extended period of time working side-by-side with her, and even more grateful that she is gracious enough to put up with me setting up camp in her office, stealing all her candy.

 

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