Nunavut: one week in

I’ve taken the plane many times in my life. Mostly to fly to warm places, exotic places like Asia or South America, where I’d spend my days wondering around outside, climbing mountains and visiting historic monuments. The experience is quite different this time around.

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Actually getting there

As you fly from Ottawa to Iqaluit, and then from Iqaluit to Hall Beach, you’re bound to see some crazy landlines and second-guess yourself a few times. After two hours in the air, you truly realise that you’re heading to the middle of nowhere as you fly over kilometers (and kilometers) of frozen flat surface. Once in a while, you get excited. You’ve just spotted clear blue water and beautiful tiny icebergs – at least, they look ‘’tiny’’ from where you stand.

Three hours later, you land in Iqaluit. The airport is brand new, much better than Montreal’s if you ask me. There’s only one restaurant, called ‘’Tundra something” and it smells nice. There are merely a few counters for companies like First Air or Canadian North, and approximatively 6 gates where you can catch your connexion flight. Overall, the city looks very welcoming.

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Your next flight will bring you even further up North, in a tiny noisy airplane. Although the aircraft can barely fit 20 people squeezed together like sardines, they’ll still serve food… and good food too! Usually, it consists of a ham & cheese sandwich (or any other meat and cheese combo). If, like me, your final destination is Hall Beach, you’ll land in a funny airport which kinda looks like a daycare: warm, cozy and decorated in a childish way. I love it!

Settling in

Max and I live in a bungalow type of house, which is basically a 4 ½ apartment that we share with another teacher. I am SUPER impressed by how good the isolation is and how new the constructions are. The water runs thanks to a water tank that’s filled daily and the indoors temperature makes you forget where you are.

The house was already semi-furnished when Max arrived. But he and his roommate had to bring their own cutlery, pots and pans, shower curtain, blankets and so on. I can’t complain, they’ve set the place up really nice before I arrived, and I don’t feel as though we are lacking anything essential to our basic survival. Especially since I brought Christmas lights, a ukulele, sesame oil and arts & crafts material, you know, priorities…

 

The cold

On average this week, the temperature has been -45 Celcius, with a real feel of -62 to -65. To be fair, it sounds scarier than it actually is.

When you step outside, you notice two things. First, your nostrils freeze from the inside, which isn’t an unpleasant feeling… sort of like breathing really cold air. Luke, I am your father. And second, you realise that your whole body is keeping warm and that your breath warms up your face. If you’re wearing ski goggles, expect them to be foggy after literally 5 minutes. Touching any kind of metal (like a dog leash, keys or a doorknob) is absolute torture. Oh and your hands, they’ll need cream. Cream is your friend.

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 The Internet situation

The minimum amount of internet you can get out here starts at 20 Gigabits per month, and costs 85$ + a 450$ fee for setting it up. If you want more, it goes like this:

30 Gbs : 180$/month

40 Gbs : 250$/month.

So yeah, it’s hell’a expensive. And no matter how much you’re willing to pay, you just can’t get a lot. Get used to it. It’s already a miracle that there’s internet up here.

So how do we manage 20 Gbs for the two of us? A few tricks:

  • We only use our phones, except when I have to work.
  • We’ve turned off notifications/updates/downloads of any kind.
  • We don’t do any video streaming. Ever.
  • We turn off the router 80% of the time, and we turn it on only when we need it.
  • There’s an unspoken rule here which is that your friends & neighbors will never ask you for your WiFi password when they come hang out. That would just be rude.

If I’m being honest, the feeling that this lack of contact with the outer world procures is magical. I LOVE it! I feel as though I am slowly becoming a hermit. Maybe I should Google what the signs are…Nop!… 20 Gbs, remember? 

Which brings me to the subject of my next article: Taking a step back and disconnecting from our oh-so-busy lives: or living without Netflix for 6 months.

Stay tuned!


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