September 20, 2011

Hiking, Manaqing, and the Start of Fall.. Oh My!

I am slowly but surely starting to settle into my routine here in Scammon Bay. I still spend a lot of my time over at the school obsessing over what I'm going to try and teach the kids each day but I have gained enough confidence in my abilities as a teacher that I have actually been allowing myself to relax and get out of the house and classroom for more than just a trip to the post office.

The first wonderful thing about Scammon Bay has been the weather. The past few days have been absolutely gorgeous with temperatures in the 50s and only slightly overcast in the mornings. Perfect outdoor activity weather!

The area around Scammon Bay has foothills that provide some great hiking. Two other teachers and I spent Friday evening hiking the rocks just outside of town with a few of the kids. A little berry picking happened, but mostly we listened to the kids tell us stories about the Ichurairuq (I know I spelled that wrong...), small humanoid creatures that live in the rocks and steal children at night who come too close to the rocks. The view from the rocks is spectacular .... an overview of the village, the river and the Bering Sea.

There is also a foothill by the school (I refuse to call it a mountain) that has an old cross at the summit. It's a steep climb, but gives another beautiful view of the tundra.

On Saturday another teacher and her husband took a group of teachers out on their boat so we could all participate in local subsistence living activities. The men went out to hunt for ducks and geese while the women were dropped off to do some manaq-ing along the river bank.

Manaqing is the traditional fishing that goes on in this area by tying a line to a sturdy stick, attaching hooks and a weight, driving the stick into the mud and casting your line into the river.


We were manaqing for tomcods (small, silver, mini-cods) at Missy's special manaq spot. Between the four women who were manaqing we brought in about 60 fish. Missy's mother-in-law, Alice (who was manaqing a short distance away) also caught an additional 60 or so and taught us some Yup'ik while we manaqed.

Michelle with a tomcod.

The right of passage that we all had to undergo was learning how to clean the fish with our bare hands. I will admit that I squealed like a little girl and almost cried when I was cleaning my first fish (it was still alive) but by the time I moved on to my third fish and beyond I felt much better about the whole process.

Missy showing Michelle how to clean.
The fish are hanging outside of our homes right now and will continue to hang for about a month until they dry and are ready to be dipped in seal oil and eaten. I will report back on how they taste once I try one.

I know there are a lot of pictures of Michelle in this post, but that's because they're from her camera. A certain neglectful blogger did remember her camera but forgot to charge the battery.... whoops.

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