On the receiving end of the Russian roadside hospitality

May be an image of road and natureAs some of you may know, our “new” car spent most of the summer and September in the repair shop. That left me, the homebody, quite content, but my mate Alexandra, with her wanderlust, got frustrated close to the breaking point. So when I turned out to have a free day on Wednesday, I said not a word against Alexandra’s plan to drive to Kashkarantsy, about 200km east from Kandalaksha.

A recent article on Kandalaksha in The Geographer

Recently an article by Jonathan Campion on Kandalaksha has appeared in The Geographer, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society magazine.

While capturing the spirit of the place, the article falls victim to stereotypes, such as “abandoned Soviet-era aluminum smelter”: if it is “Soviet-era”, it has to be “abandoned”, like “a nice hot” fits together with “a cup of tea”.

Also, I couldn’t make sense out of the episode of a man with a gun chasing the traveler away.  It sounds like the author stumbled into a military base, but there are no military bases in or around Kandalaksha. The only plausible explanation I can think of is that the author of the story happened to stumble upon a dacha owner overprotective of his property. Highly atypical I’d say.

The Geographer >>

Jonathan Campion’s site >>

Recent activity

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 alexandragor4@yandex.ru. 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.

Main page of www.eiderdown.com

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.

..was dragged out to Luvenga Tundras today

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.

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2017 year summary

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.

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“To book aurora borealis”

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.

 

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