An appropriate end of December exercise may be to sum up the results of this year, my fourth one in Kandalaksha.
Making a living remains the number one issue. On that front I’m pleased to note that, after three years here, I seem to have achieved a certain popularity as an English tutor, and have just as many clients – mostly from among the local kids – as I need, three or four one hour lessons on an average day, exactly as much as I can comfortably handle.
As far as providing services to travelers and those who have an interest in Russia but can’t be here, several projects completed in 2017 come to mind.
First, it was finding a Russian bride – now a wife – for a French-educated African gentleman. Africans, no matter their background or the level of success, are not exactly popular among Russian women, so finding him a match was a bit of a challenge. The project, however, was successfully completed via my Moscow connections, who got him his woman from somewhere in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Second, it was assistance to a Spanish family in finding a relative in Kandalaksha, without much to go by other than the name. Checked the old telephone book (no new ones are available due to current “privacy protection” laws), visited the address, but turned out there is no one known by that name there. Checked the library records, also to no avail. Posted a notice on kandalaksha.org, the owner of the forum looked into his old database and gave me yet another, also outdated address. In the meantime, I turned to the good old vk.com and did find the person in question, wrote to her but heard nothing back. E-mailed all of her contacts, and one of them did respond, and here I was, with a valid phone number on my hands!
Did several small tours around Kandalaksha. Took a Finnish mother and daughter to the Kolvitsa hills. Assisted Serbian filmmakers in finding “authentic” fishermen along the southern edge of the Kola Peninsula. Answered a bunch of small inquiries and matched travellers with suitable local contacts. That sort of things.
And now I’m up to my ears in what appears to be the biggest project of the year, likely to continue into 2018, which is to find fueling (bunkering) locations along the Kola Peninsula coast for a yacht traveling from St. Petersburg to Kirkiness and needing to stop for refueling every 400km. It appears that fuel will need to be delivered to the village of Sosnovka from either Umba or Lovozero, and to Teriberka from Murmansk, by a truck in the former case and by an all-terrain vehicle on tracks, sort of like a tank without a turret, in the latter.
All-in-all, managing to keep myself comfortably busy, with current bills paid.
And still having time left to work on translating my mate’s book on the relationship between the eider ducks and humans in the course of known history.
Let me take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who honoured me with their patronage and thus allowed me to carry on with my humble existence in this cold and remote corner of the world in a comfort-ish manner. You are wonderful! And I look forward to hearing more of your requests.