Friday, September 27, 2013

Bears, Boat Rides, Berries, and More!

Sorry I haven’t updated for a couple of weeks, things have been hectic! Sorry this will probably be long.

The Friday after my last post (2 weeks ago) Andy took me out looking for bears (caryak is the Yupik word for brown bear). I doubted we would see any but by a stroke of luck Andy spotted one! I don’t know how he saw it, it was so far away. I could barely see it in the binoculars. The bear was eating something on the side of the river. We watched it for a while and then kept going looking for more. Maggie followed us the entire way! I saw a bald eagle, some swans, some ptarmigan (qangqiiq in Yupik), and a rock we thought was a porcupine. On the way back we saw a mom bear and two cubs by the river! We watched them for a long time and Maggie even barked at them! Not the brightest idea Maggie, but it made for a great picture with all three bears looking right at us. Mama bear sized us up all the way across the river and decided we weren’t worth it and kept walking. We watched them for a while and then got back on the four wheeler to head back. As we were driving back we found a HUGE pile of fresh bear scat right on the path that wasn’t there before. We didn’t stick around to see who left it! Now an important note to follow this story: We had to go out looking for these bears far away from the village. Even out looking for them they were hard to find and we got very lucky. Meghan has never seen a bear since she has been here. We were also very far away from them!  My camera was very zoomed in for the pictures I took. I can’t believe how lucky I was to see them. 

First Bear
 Bear Print
 Mama bear and her two cubs!

Saturday Meghan and Andy took me to Togiak on their boat. It was about a fifteen minute ride and we got really lucky with the weather. It was so smooth going both ways. Togiak has a population of about 800. It seemed very busy compared to Twin Hills and they even have two stores! I got a bunch of frozen food, grapes for $9, and some other fruits and things like that. I learned all about the tides, how the moon affects it, the rotation, and a whole lot of other information about it. It was neat to learn about because it is something that never affected me before but the tide is very important here. It was nice to visit another village but I defiantly like Twin Hills better. I have pictures from our trip but unfortunately I haven't gotten them on the computer yet.

That Sunday I went to church and three of the kids followed me there. They said they wanted to come in and I told them they could as long as they sat quietly and they had to stay through the whole thing. They did an awesome job and I was very proud of them! Sunday the 15th was also Piper's first birthday! I got her some birthday tennis balls and her favorite toy the Benebone! Piper loves her Benebone and it is one of the few things that can with stand her chewing! The company is also very nice and sent us a nice e-mail after I ordered it on Amazon. I would highly recommend them to anyone! I don't know what I would do without my best friend here and I'm so thankful to have her. I can't believe she's one!

My kids got letters from their pen pals in Dr. Bazley’s class at Kutztown University. They were very excited to get them! The letters asked them about their favorite books, what they liked to do for fun, etc. I told the kids I would take pictures of them around the village to send to their pen pals and to help them write back. The kids were very excited and when I went for my nightly walk that night they were all looking for me to take their pictures. I got some cute ones and they did a really nice job writing back to their pen pals!

Last Friday I got to try Eskimo ice cream for the first time. It consists of berries, crisco, and sugar. It is served cold and was actually pretty good. I just didn't like the filmy feeling left in my mouth from the crisco.

That evening Martha took me out to pick cranberries. Martha is the Yupik teacher at the school and is my village mentor for the Yupik grad class I am taking. It was very chilly out that day. I got about half a baggie full of cranberries. They were very tasty and I liked them a lot. By the end of our berry picking my hands were so cold I couldn’t move my pinky on my left hand to get them back in my glove. It’s starting to get chilly here! It's getting light about about 8:30am and dark around 9pm.

On Saturday Martha took me to clean out her sisters maqi. Maqi is the Yupik word for steam. People here steam instead of showering. It is a very social event. Martha wants me to participate in a woman’s steam. So to do the steam we need to clean the maqi, gather and chop wood, and then finally steam.  We went over to the maqi and she showed me the stinkweed they use for aroma therapy, how they shower in there, and how the steam works. We cleaned it using bleach, pine sol, and water. Eventually we’ll gather the wood, chop it, and then steam. She taught me the Yupik words that go along with steaming:
Quggtaq- packing wood
Eqiuq- chop wood
Merrtaq- pack water
Eruq- wash body
Quliteq- wash hair

Later that day Meghan and Andy went to Togiak again and I rode along. I got some more food and we picked up Les and his dog in Togiak to come to Twin Hills to do some technology stuff in Twin Hills. It was a windy day and not as smooth as the trip the week before. On the way over we were going against the waves and it was very bumpy. On the way back it was very rocky and we were swaying back and forth a lot. I won’t lie, I was a little scared! But we made it back safe and sound.

This leads me to Sunday and the two puppies I currently have attacking my laptop and biting my toes. As you have probably seen in my last picture there is a litter of adorable blue eyed puppies here. They break my heart every time I walk by. My aunt and her neighbor are both looking for a puppy so I inquired about getting a puppy. Most people give puppies away but for me to get one they cost money. He wanted a $100 a puppy, which is a tad much for puppies living outside with no shots or anything. I offered $100 for both and he took it. I took both of the female puppies so they can’t reproduce. There are four males left. My aunt and her neighbor are very excited. As soon as their airline carrier arrives I’ll book their flight out to Pennsylvania. There is a really nice vet in Dillingham who is going to check them in with the airline and do their health certs. I’m very lucky she is doing that for them! So until the carrier gets here I have two puppies running around like a couple of nuts. They inhale food and are starting to put on some weight and look healthier. Meghan and Andy had wormer so they were wormed which has to of made them feel better. Piper loves them and thinks they are best friends. They are pretty cute but two puppies is a lot of work. They are very lucky pups and I can’t wait until they get to their forever homes in PA.

This week I also had the opportunity to purchase some local items! I got a set of dance fans and a seal skin hat!

P.S. You can still order Twin Hills clothing for our fundraiser until October 14th!! J


  1. Love the update! Keep up the good work! :)

  2. Hi Megan,

    Love the pictures! How lucky you were to see a Mama bear and her cubs! That must have been exciting! Hope Piper had a happy birthday and she is enjoying her roommates. They are very cute!

    Keep up the great work and enjoy your adventure!

    Take care,

    Donna (Kylie's Mom)