One of the biggest cons about living in Shishmaref is the lack of indoor plumbing. Yes that's right, Shishmaref has no central sewer system. The school has flush toilets and running water, but the houses don't. We are lucky enough that our little house is close enough to the school that our sink and shower are hooked into the pipes. Our toilet, however, is not.
Shishmaref is a village on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea off of the Seward Peninsula. (Thank you Linda Beyer for: taking this awesome picture, sharing this awesome picture, being an awesome person and teacher, and providing me with a model to emulate in my classroom and my life.) You may not be able to tell from the above picture that the village is on an island because everything, including the surrounding water, is covered in snow, but, trust me, it is definitely an island. The reason the houses and buildings are all close together in a teeny tiny strip is because that's about the size of the teeny tiny sandbar they're built upon. Sarichef Island is a barrier island. I've heard measurements for our island are about 2.5 miles by .5 miles, but I haven't actually used an odometer to verify those measurements.
I decided to start a new series of posts here at TAT. This one is completely original and not a cheap imitation of Jaz's American Dresdner. 🙂 The title of this series is "Fun Facts." It will be a collection of interesting (and fun) facts about Shishmaref that do not necessarily fit into the "Pro" or "Con" category.
The first fun fact is that there are lots of dead animal skins in various places around our village. Most of the people here hunt. A lot. They eat traditional foods and use the skins to make traditional clothing (more on traditional clothing in an upcoming post....I bet you're excited...). As such, there are frequently dead animal remains in prominent places.
(Don't you just want to pick this little guy up and put him in your pocket? I do!!! He doesn't actually fit in my pocket, so I have to settle for picking him up and smothering him with kisses every time I see him.)
In a tribute to my friend and fellow blogger Jaz (I'm hesitant to post a link to her blog here because it's so much cooler and more witty than mine that you will immediately abandon my blog forever without looking back. However, I feel like withholding the link would be denying my gentle readers the glee and excitement I feel every time Jaz posts a new entry. So, here's the link: Jaz's Amazing Blog) I decided to start a running pro and con list of living in Shishmaref (Jaz has a similar running list of living in Germany).
My first pro: Absolutely Adorable Children. I am not kidding. Eskimo kids are some of the best looking kids in the world. There's something about those chubby cheeks, the black hair, and the dark brown eyes that completely melts my heart.
When I volunteered to be the Cross Country Ski Coach, I knew I was volunteering to face several scary experiences. Among them:
- having to teach a sport I had never participated in and know nothing about, thus setting myself up for major embarrassment and ridicule
- being responsible to keep kids from getting frostbite in -30 weather.
- keeping watch to ensure that none of my skiers are eaten by polar bears (this is a legitimate danger in Shishmaref; during our long practices outside of the immediate village we have to be accompanied by armed escorts)