To the top of the worldFebruary 6 in Canada
For work, I'm heading to the Top of the World, or as it's also known, Inuvik. I'm not sure how it named itself this, but that is the slogan for this little city on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories. It was a planned community built in the 1950s. Now, it boasts over 3000 permanent inhabitants and has a famous church that people come to see.
To get here from Nunavut, well Igloolik specifically, is a journey. I'm on day 3 and should be landing in about an hour. The remoteness of all the towns in between mean there isn't much choice in flights. One gets canceled and you're not moving for the rest of the day. Try again tomorrow.
I have gotten to see things I didn't know I was missing. Like trees. I have not seen a shrub or tree in 5 months. Growing up in a place where people came as tourist FOR the trees, being in barrenground surroundings is different. I saw buildings over 4 stories tall. I saw a semi truck.
All of this was in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. It's HUGE. Around 30,000 people. There are roads that lead to Yellowknife so goods and services are much more readily available. There are even car dealerships there! Real highways and speed limit signs. So much pavement everywhere. I did not know I had become so used to life in Igloolik. What would someone think who had lived entirely in Igloolik to move and live in, say, Ottawa? It's one thing to know something. It's another to experience it. I knew what real markets in Asia or Africa consisted of, but there is no way to understand until you've experienced it.
The internet! Oh god the internet!! It was so fast in Yellowknife. So incredibly fast. Pictures just popped up. Webpages loaded instantly. And this was with me just on the 4G mobile network. I cannot even remember the speed of a cable network. Faster than you can click!
I met a friend at the hotel lounge last night and I reveled in sharing a drink with her. I reveled in seeing the menu items that had words like, "pecan", "jalapeno", "sweet potato fries".
I also reveled in the soft soft bristles of my toothbrush this morning. In Igloolik, the mineral content (really, I don't know what it is, I just tell myself this so I don't freak out) of the water is so great that every time I go to brush my teeth, the bristles have hardened into little pillars of concrete so that you have to break them on your teeth. It is not a comforting feeling. At first I thought that somehow I'd become a failure at rinsing my toothbrush after years of managing to do a pretty good job. Only after several days of deliberate, thorough, obsessive rinsing, did I realize it was the water and not me. So, to wake up in Yellowknife and brush my teeth without first having to overcome the "crunchiness" was a lovely, appreciate pleasure.
I've also quite enjoyed the mild -25C weather in Yellowknife. It feels great. Coming from -40C (which is also-40 F because that is where the two measures meet) with a brutal wind, -25 feels downright tolerable and nice. To be able to have my hands out for more than 30 seconds without intense pain is wonderful. To not feel as if my cheeks are being burned by a hot poker is just relaxing. In Inuvik, it's supposed to be even milder in the -teens. In Fahrenheit, that equates to about 0 or even +2/3 degrees. I have brought my bathing suit.
So, my message to you, my friends, as I finalize day 3 of travel to the top of the world, is to look around and be thankful for that soft toothbrush, internet, and the fact you can get to Africa faster than I can get to a city in the same country as I live.Read more