Despite the economic crisis and quarantine, I’ve managed to keep myself relatively busy as of recent. Teaching English, mostly to local kids, has been a reliable, although not that well paid, staple. The mega-project of the last three years was translating the Eider Book written by my mate Alexandra. The book has now been printed and at the moment is being bound in St. Petersburg. Anybody interested in purchasing it should contact Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org. The expected price is around $100US. Shipping may or may not be extra. That will be decided shortly. At the moment we can only announce the ballpark price figure.
A good part of June was spent on developing www.eiderdown.com, my first “serious” site-building project for a client. Talk to me if you need a website of a similar level of complexity. Heavy editing of client-provided texts and pictures was part of the job. The cost of both the English and the Russian versions was together around $1000.
Yes, the crisis and all forced me to seriously reduce the price tag on my time. Now it is as good of an opportunity to hire me as it has ever been since mid-1990s. I’ll be happy to hear from anyone who needs an agent or a representative in the Murmansk region.
Finally made it to the right (lower) side of the Kolvitsa river yesterday and saw what was left of the famous hydroelectric power station that was built in 1949 and supplied energy to Kolvitsa and a few neighbouring villages until the mid-1960s. Five or six boulder-filled log cages are still there. Was impressed.
My tough and somewhat cruel mate used the fact that today I had no teaching engagements at all – a rare case during the school year – to drag me out into the hills in the vicinity of Luvenga, ~10 miles east of Kandalaksha along the south shore, with the purpose of “contemplating natural beauty”.
I’d estimate we walked at least 10km up and down a wet, muddy and rocky trail and got to the height of 500+ meters. Now my legs are falling off.
I admit however the scenery was indeed on the beautiful side, and I’m ready to take you travellers to the hills in exchange for a modest financial contribution to keeping us afloat. The trip includes a picnic.
Of things practical/edible – even though we are sick of mushrooms at this time of the year – we’ve collected one perfect King bolete and several Weeping boletes. Lots of blueberries and some lingonberry in the hills even though there very few berries by the sea because of the summer drought.
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.
Got several inquiries from travelers wishing to come here to see the aurora borealis, aka northern lights. Here is my attempt to provide a comprehensive answer to the seekers of this phenomenon.
The most common question is “When do I need to travel to the Kola Pensula to see aurora borealis for sure”. First, forget the “for sure” part. The aurora is a probabilistic thing. Thus there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Generally speaking, aurora borealis can be observed at high latitudes any time there are dark nights. On the Kola Peninsula it is approximately from September to April.
A common misconception is that aurora borealis requires real cold winter weather. This photo was made in the Hibiny mountains on the 28th of September, and I’ve myself seen the aurora in the vicinity of Kandalaksha starting the end of August.
On our way from Kuzomen we stopped by the village of Olenitsa some 50km west. Somehow this place managed to evade our attention in all these years. The village turned out to be a delight, as are most places along the south cost of the Kola Peninsula. Here are a few photos of this charming Olenitsa place:
Today I’ve succumbed to the temptation to feed baby seals. These come ashore once every couple of years by the canal from the Niva cascade of hydroelectric stations opening into the Kandalaksha bay in the west end of the city. The rather fast water flow from the canal brings oxygen, which attracts herring, which, in turn, brings in adult seals with their babies. Adults catch their own fish. Babies come to the shore and get fed by people. One of classic Kandalaksha entertainments. We could not resist..