Hungry bears in berry-less woods

This summer was exceptionally cold. As a result, there are practically no berries in the woods. That leads to a lot of hungry bears roaming the forests and occasionally exploring garbage dumpsters in a desperate attempt to put on some fat before the winter sets in. Lots of bear excrements in the woods between Malinovoye, where our dacha is, and Luvenga. The locals who are in the habit of taking early morning walks say there are four of them in the five-kilometer long and narrow strip of trees between the seacoast and the road. As of recent, they have been containing a lot of rowanberries, which is not at all typical bear food.

A pile of bear crap with undigested rowanberries for your aesthetic enjoyment

A story from Chernaya Rechka (“Black River”) in Karelia reached me yesterday. A black bear occupied a cranberry field and refused to leave even when the local women shouted at it – not a typical behaviour for this beast. Now these women are said to go cranberry picking accompanied by men with shotguns.

Lighthouse Foundation collecting funds for the publication of the book on the history of eider ducks and people

Lighthouse Foundation, a German organization that effectively promotes sustainable development of the coastal areas around the world, has listed the collection of funds for the printing of my mate Alexandra’s book on the relationship between Eider ducks and Man throughout history among its projects.

Here is the beginning of their page on Alexandra’s Eider book:

This is the world’s first pop­u­lar sci­ence pub­lic­a­tion ded­ic­ated to the world-wide his­tory of the re­la­tion of Man (Homo sapi­ens) and the Com­mon ei­der (So­ma­teria mol­lis­sima): from the ei­ders in the ex­cav­a­tions of an­cient hu­man set­tle­ments to the ei­ders in art; from myths and le­gends to the latest sci­entific re­search; from the ei­ders as hunt­ing trophies to them in the mu­seum col­lec­tions.

Read more at the Lighthouse Foundation site >>

Those wishing to make a contribution towards the printing of the book will find banking information to the right of the Eider page on the Lighthouse Foundation site.

A car trouble sketch-of-life example from the same traveller

Another story from Jack from Poland (see the previous story) that may be worth sharing to show the spirit of the country. Reminds me of another couple of travellers who got a free tow from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg. So yes, I’d say the situation described below is “typical” for Russia.

While it wasn’t in your neightborhood, I would like to share with you a
story, what happened a week before.

As always, I prepared my car thoroughly for the trip. But it’s impossible to
predict every failure. At the Russian border, a leak started from the
cooling system. My repairs didn’t helped for long. Two days later, in the
middle of nowhere, a big diameter, long, rubber hose, has disintegrated
totally, due to it’s age. It was looking like a new from outside, while
being a garbage inside, at least at a section of it.

Without much effort, I stopped a man, who, using a rope, towed me to an
unpaved parking lot at a tire service at route M20. He drove to that place
only for me, and took money only for the fuel.

On this parking lot were two military trucks. Soldiers were taking a rest.
When I opened the hood of my car, they immediately came to me. We all saw,
that the fix is simple, but what can I do without new hose? They tried to
cut off hose from their pump (used for pumping oil, I think) to replace that
in my car, but diameter was different.

A man from tire service soon appeared. He gave us all what was necassary: a
short L-bend hose (from some car), a steel pipe and electric angle grinder.
Soldiers cutted out excessive lenght of the pipe, removed rotten part of my
hose and assembled everything, using their own hose-clamps. They even filled
the cooling system with water from their own portable tank and bleeded it.

Soldiers (like the tire-shop guy) didn’t wanted money. I tried to gave them
some jars and cans with food from EU, at least. They refused to take more
than 1 jar, and one of them gave me an emblem from shoulder of his uniform.

Contrary to this, in my country (and some others) it’s not easy to find free
help. And it’s a real rarity, when somebody offers help to you, because he
sees you need it. Russian soldiers repaired my car for free, they worked
over 30 minutes till my car was ready to go, wanted nothing in exchange, and
they did this before I asked them for help. Today, after 10,000 km, their
kludge is still working.

While, when visiting Russia, I’ve met many times with warm reception and
gifts, nothing can beat those four soldiers. And their emblem, a personal
gift, is my most valuable souvenir.

Jack

A letter from a recent traveller to Sredny and Rybachy, Teriberka and Tumany

A few days ago I received the following letter from a Polish traveller to this neck of the woods. I’m reproducing the letter in its entirety, with author’s permission, in the hope it may be of use to other potential travellers here. 

Hi

2 months ago I asked you some questions before the trip to Teriberka, Tumanny and Sredny peninsula. I returned home recently.

I want to tell you, that all your informations were correct. I wasn’t
arrested there. Also, there are no gas stations, tire services nor car
services at the road to – and in – Teriberka and Tumanny. Nature is
astonishing there, and Teriberka is really magic place. I saw Kandalaksha
too, and many other towns, like Kalevala, Belogorsk or Kirovsk.

When trying to drive to Sredni peninsula, despite being careful, I destroyed
exhaust in my car after just few hundred meters. It was huge mistake, this
road is exclusively for SUVs and 4×4s. I’ve been in workshop in Zapolyarny,
but damage was so severe, I was forced to leave to Norway with broken
exhaust, because my visa (and temporary car importation) was about to
expire. Nobody in low cars should try to go there.

Also, while going to Teriberka/Tumanny, I noticed as low temperatures, as 2
deg. C. (5 – 8 was typical). The temperature sensor was at a mirror, so just
above the ground, near 0 was possible. So, driving there, at the end of
June, with water in radiator was possible, but risky.

Best wishes – Jack from Poland

Weekly fish and sea food fair in Murmansk

A few months ago somebody asked me for a review of the local fish market.

An often-heard complaint about the local fish scene is that it has very little locally caught fish. Recently, however, a weekly fish and sea product fair has opened in Murmansk.

It is supposed to be held every Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm at the Forum Trade Center. The address is Kolsky Proyezd 134. One can get there by a free bus that is said to be leaving every hour starting 9:30 am from Ulitsa Gadzhiyeva in the city center.

Sounds like a good place to get a glimpse of the local fish scene, including the fishermen who, it is said, bring their catch straight to the market.

A night-time tour of Kandalaksha – am I still capable of staying up and active until 6am?

Motivated by greed, I’ve conceded to give an overview tour of Kandalaksha and area on the night from Saturday to Sunday, starting at 1am and ending at 6am. Now, as the day or, rather, night, approaches I’m starting to have doubts about the wisdom of my decision. Somehow staying up all night is something that no longer seems easy although I worked as a night watchman for a considerable time in Canada in my younger days. We’ll see if I’m still capable of pulling it off..