We have had little Internet service for the past couple days and haven’t been able to post, but here is what we’ve been up too!
A slight detour in our flight to Salluit on Tuesday turned into a surprise stay in Puvirnituq! Because of high winds (90km/hr!), our flight was grounded in this small town with no indication of for how long. Luckily, we had plenty of dried lentils to live off of during our mini-vacation- yum! On our flight from Montreal we had met a young Air Inuit pilot, whose friendship turned out to be very useful when we a) had no idea what was going on at the airport, and b) desperately needed a ride to the Puvirnituq co-op hotel!
Our mini vacay turned out to be pricey- $350 (yes that is not a typo) for a room at the only hotel in town. After breakfast the frantic phone calls insued: Air Inuit customer service, our contacts in Salluit, the airport, the hotel manager, and anyone else who would listen! When we called the airport asking about flights to Salluit the response was “Oh we’re not going there.” To which we timidly responded “Ever…?” Finally, around 10am we were told to come to the airport and wait…so we did…until 3pm… While we were watching “Honey” to pass the time the tough looking cleaning lady came over and quickly snapped, “What are you girls trying to do, starve yourselves?” before shoving piles of cookies, juice and water bottles on to the table. The first sign that someone knew we existed, and cared!! We were ecstatic! Over the course of the day as travelers came and went we became known as “the two girls trying to get to Salluit”. At least our stay in the airport allowed us to meet some interesting community members! Among them were the mayor, the famous local singer Elisapie Isaac, correctional services, pilots, community health workers, medical evacuation staff and other friendly community members. All in all this what a great time to chat and get to know people in Salluit and the surrounding communities. Finally it was announced that everyone on stand by (aka us) would be allowed on the plane!
On our way to Salluit we stopped in two villages – the first for an extremely important Pepsi pick-up (no one got on or off the plane…). In the second town the pilots told us that we might not be able to land in Salluit because of the high winds, and may need to turn around! Knowing we could not afford another night in Puvirnituq’s hotel we hoped and prayed we’d make it, and luckily we were able to land with a shaky and turbulent descent, and all the passengers cheered!
Kate (our community contact), her husband, and Francois came to pick us up in their four wheelers and skidoos. The ride was incredible – the sun was shining and reflecting off the frosty hills and we caught a glimpse on the whole town down in the valley. Once at Barbara’s (the teacher we will be living with), we had a chance to unpack and eat a lovely dinner that she had prepared for us. We also met the very charming Nathan, a 21 month old Inuk boy who Barbara is fostering. Following dinner we took a walk into town to explore where we met several children eager to race and play. We were exhausted after our long day but relieved to be in Salluit – finally!