|2004-10-07 - Self contemplation
6th of October we´re still camping at N 65°20´30.5 and E 151°29´44.3 approx. 70 km:s from Zyryanka, it is -10°C and we´re relatively comfortable. It is snowing on and off.
Self contemplation and the subject females.
Unfortunately, I´ve been forced on my back by a nasty cold. A disease I´ve either picked up by one of the few Russians we´ve come across this last month or it has been with me since Seimchan. The same cold that put Johan on his back a few days a month ago. I´ve had my share of illnesses during my Expeditions. I´ve had several bouts of malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis, amoebas, typhoid, an amazing amount of infections caused by a variety of biting insects and a long list of other diseases. This is one reason why I´ve become a full time hypochondriac. Those times of illness are, and have been, terrible. One feels weak, scared and vulnerable. And they always hit you, when you least want them to. This time when the freezing cold stands by the door, the ice´s arriving and when important deadlines are coming up. Not good at all!
If I have to find any positive aspects with being ill, it definitely
gives you lots of perspective on life and gives you a lot of time to
think and for self redemption. A journey like this one is not only to document, learn and experience this unknown area, but also an Expedition within. One hopes to find ways to make one a kinder, better and more humane human being. Therefore, now and during paddling hours, I try to find those solutions. I´ve searched every corner of my brain and, gee, have I found a lot of dust and dirt hiding there! It is not my first time of soul searching, most likely not my last either, but it still get shocked over the fact of all those hidden things. And I know the
struggle which is waiting, but I fear this time is probable the most
demanding. A terribly long, dark and pretty lonely winter, with plenty of time to think, is waiting beyond Zyryanka. If we ever get there.
These days on the back, has also given me some time to reflect over how you readers have thought about these dispatches we try to supply you with regularly. We have had a big response and it has been overwhelmingly positive. But plenty of women reckons it is far too much hunting, fishing and stories about men, written by men. Not one single dispatch about a woman. Not one photo of a woman! Or a child! I agree fully. I wish we could have supplied you with much more material about the regions women and children, but I will try to explain why we haven´t. It could be totally wrong, but from my point of view, it has a fair amount of logic to it...
99% of our time along the Kolyma, with the exception of three (!) days, its been only Johan and me and this great wilderness. So as you well understand, during these circumstances, it is impossible to write a story or take a photo of women or children. On top of that, the only thing you have in mind in a surrounding as such is either a profound feeling of awe in front of this magnificent wilderness or having constant thoughts on how to get food and when. When the call of the stomach is so strong, hunting and fishing is not only a way of survival, it is the only thing one has a capacity to think about.
But, our days of hunting and fishing is coming to end. Winter is
approaching and we have to wait in Zyryanka for I don´t know how long before the ice is safe to ski. At least 45 days. This is when we´ve planned to concentrate fully on life in the settlements along the Kolyma.
Life in the settlements, well, yes, we did spend three tumultuous days in Seimchan, when we were taken for a fast spin of the area by a variety of men. We did also cut film and went shopping for food and equipment plus did a meticulous plan for these 5 weeks in the wilderness, which are now coming to an end. Sure, we did see a few women in the distance and inside the shops, but we didn´t have any time to form a personal get-to-know-relation with them. Or with the children. We just didn´t have the time. Most important, though, after having spent 16 years in different cultures all over the world, I know from experience, that even though most people like getting filmed or getting their photo taken, they get extremely annoyed if you don´t ask or have had time to form some kind of a relation. Rightly so. Therefore I never film or take a photo of people I haven´t had time to form a relation with.
On top of that, out here, in the bush, we´ve come across only ten
people. All men. This is a male dominated culture, especially out here in the wilderness, and therefore, the reporting then becomes very male.
Unfortunately. I wish much more women would choose to live out here in the wilderness. There´s definitely ample space and opportunities to do so.
So, please, have patience and try to see it all through a wider
perspective. We´re going to stay here a year, almost, and we hope we will be able to supply you with clear insights to the life of women and children along the Kolyma. However, this is no easy thing to do, now with Titti not being with us, as a foreign male getting close to the way women in an akin society. Especially in a male dominated society as this one, since the men do everything to be in the limelight all the time.
For this reason, it takes plenty of time and effort to build a safe base for communication. But in Zyryanka, we will have this time. We will do our uttermost.
Final words on the subject, I dare say that we so far have done what we came here to do, namely truthfully and objectively, describe life along the Kolyma River.