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амто пойтыл' ан!
Friday February 18, 2011 - 61.9217° N, 159.2300° E
амто пойтыл' ан !
"Hello Parenski!"

Yes, it is time for me to brush up on my Koryak as I am progressively getting back into this beautiful and isolated world...
In deed, I have been in touch with Koryaks ever since I entered the village of Slautnoye in Kamchatka Koryak Okrug where they are the majority, and been with them consequently through my journey in Kamenskoye, Manily, Paren and even spent time with some of the Koryak herders in a reindeer brigade.

Well, now that I am stil waiting in Evensk where the Evens make a large percentage of the population, I have progressively been drawn back into the Koryak "expatriated" clan!



Koryak friends Еугайе Tatiana & Nadezha Khai-Khutyk
Over the last two weeks spent in Evensk, I have indeed been passed on from one kind koryak parenski (ie: koryak native of either Urs Paren or Verhniy Paren villages) to the next, whether it was the school director Еугайе Tatiana feeding me a succulent reindeer stew or Nadezha Khai-Khutyk feeding me frozen fish sashimi, homemade seaweed salad and even given me Yukalas!
Yukalas are indeed delicious sundried strip of salmon skins and are a koryak specialty that I have truly learned to appreciate last spring on the trail.

Nadezha, aka Nadia, explained to me how critical it was for the koryaks to eat fresh items such as frozen fish sashimi and stated that in the distant past, countless settling kazaks died in the neighbouring town of Ghiziga for not having eaten enough proteins...

Nadia also emphasized how much the Koryaks love to share what they got, not expecting anything in return, simply expecting you to help the next person you come across in return...
If possible, a good rule indeed to live by!

In Evensk, I have also been able to recently spend some time at the small but rich Evensk museum where I could see a fair amount of beautiful Koryak & Even artifacts.

Amongst other activities, I have also enjoyed going to the sports complex where I could see Koryak/Even/Russian girls play basketball and boys hone their skills in Greco-Roman wrestling!

I spent some time as well watching the local troop perform Even and Koryak dances! The troop was composed of Evens, Koryak, Metisses, white russian and ukrainian children and teenagers who apparently take a vivid interest in learning traditional dance, chants and drums.

I should also mention that one of the most powerful experiences that I have lived over the last few days was when I was invited by Nadezha, one of my koryak friend to partake twice in a 3 hours mass performed in a crowded small home, where more than sixty koryaks and a few white russians shared thoughts, prayers, laughs, songs rythmned by accordeons, a guitar and even the sounds of a trumpet! A great and warm community where I truly felt welcomed!

The local priest also insisted on blessing me to assure a safe journey ahead deep in the tundra and gave me a Russian/English new testament which as he mentioned I could dwell into, while resting in my tent on purga/stormy days ahead...

Some of the Koryak members have also given me addresses of koryak relatives in Omukchan and Susuman, to contact as I venture further West...

So, once again, as I am bracing myself to embark on this 280kms journey back to Verhnyi Paren and Urs Paren hopefully (!!!) sometimes within the next 2-3 days via truck and, as I have recently heard unheated tractor (in -40c temperatures....), which might take X amount of time... it feels great to feel so welcomed amongst koryak friends who apparently are getting quite keen at seeing me, trekking through their universe...

To give you something to relate to, being able to get closer to this koryak minority in Evensk somewhat feels as if I was getting closer to a clan of corsicans in Paris or Puerto-Ricans in New York while waiting to embark and trek through their homeland...

And finally, on a very different note, I have also learned quite a lot over the last few days while also spending time with 2d generation Evenski white russians, better understanding their frustration when they can recall how their own parents had somewhat more comfortable lives in this remote part of the world under the heavily subsidized soviet regime while they themselves are left to struggle, living off meager salaries and having to pay exhorbitant prices for brought-in daily products. Indeed, when one can only sell his/her apartment for only 3,000$, he/she does not really have the option to be able to take off and start a new life somewhere back in matirik/ warmer and less remote Russian mainland.
So here, they stay, hoping that as the region digs and finds more and more gold, their daily life will hopefully improve!
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