This is me by the White Sea coast ~200 meters from our new dacha, where my mate regularly drags me out, after a forced walk at minus 20 degrees centigrade (minus 4 Fahrenheit)
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.
Rain, melting snow, and wind – we were treated to the classic late fall weather last night. The ugliest it has been in a long time. Most definitely this is not the time of year to travel to Kandalaksha.
But I make a living off you travellers, thus the late fall special on all of my services in an effort to entice you here: 50% off, or $12.50/hour and I’m yours to act as a guide, driver or translator.
Or, if you have business here but can’t attend the place in person, I can be your errand boy. Information gathering of any sort, people and grave searches, press reviews, whatever. It’s like having your feet and eyes and hands, and even a part of your brain here.
Severpost.ru reports that Olga Galanchik, the owner of one of Kandalaksha’s travel agencies, Orange Tours, located at no. 3 ulitsa 50 let Okryabrya, was arrested in Sweden on Sept. 19, 2017, for stealing a fur coat. The court date is set for October 6, and Olga is said to be under arrest before the court.
I wonder if this is a true story or a typical Russian “drive your competitor out of business” ploy.
Just returned from a trip to Zapolarny on an interpreting assignment. Here are some useful bits pertaining to the logistics of travelling from Kandalaksha to Zapolarny cheap and easy.
The annoying thing is that there is no direct link, either by bus or railroad, between Kandalaksha and Zapolarny. You’ll have to travel through Murmansk. But it turned out easier than anticipated.
To get to Murmansk fast and cheap hop on a minibus that leaves at 5:30 am and 6:30 am off the train station parking lot. To reserve a seat call 8 911 349 9000. The trip will take about 4 hours and as of the moment, it costs 700 roubles ($12US). The train is slightly slower and considerably more expensive ($20-35) but there are several during the day. See tutu.ru for the train schedule.
Another option of getting to Murmansk is by arranging a ride through blablacar.ru. My first experience with the system was highly positive. Lots of traffic between Kandalaksha and Murmansk, and the “standard” cost is 500 roubles (under $10) per passenger.
Just letting the world know that we are slowly moving back towards Kandalaksha, and it is business as usual starting this evening. Greetings from the village of Kashkarantsy, where we stopped for the night.
On returning from the Village of Kuzomen found the little horse hanging by our camper again. This time, with more than one beer inside me, I thought it a good idea to get on the animal that, apart from attempting to bite at my legs, took this abuse quite calmly and gave me a ride around our camp.
Yes, I can be hired as a guide, a driver, an interpreter, or an agent of any sort (market research, sourcing, location/people/grave/whatever search) from my return to Kuzomen expected around the middle of August till the end of the month for HALF PRICE, i.e. $12.50/hour, with the use of the vehicle also halved to 20 cents/kilometer. A rare opportunity to get me cheap while helping me to revive my stagnating business.
I’ve been asked several times over the last month what’s the big fuss about the proposed plans to knock down several thousand of Moscow’s outdated (mostly from the 1950s and 1960s) buildings. Here is an article, in English, summarizing what’s wrong with mayor Sobyanin’s project. And here is another one from The Moscow Times explaining why scores of Muscovites are not that happy about the authorities’ big plans.
A few days ago, on April 20 2017, the Ministry of Justice declared the Kola Ecological Center, of which my mate Alexandra is a member, a “foreign agent” for receiving foreign financing and being engaged in political activity.
Its “political activity” appears to be taking part in public hearings where government officials were present.
The “foreign agent” status means, in addition to a serious stigma, a significant increase in the amount of reporting paperwork the NGO has to do.
The Kola Ecological Center is behind the eco-trails east of Kandalaksha and near Kolvitsa. They also orchestrated the construction of a WW2 memorial in Kolvitsa. These are the sort of things that stand out in their work, not attempting to influence Russian government officials using foreign funds.