Terry arrives on her own and drives us to the Narwhal Inn near the airport to rest for a few hours and also gives us back the liner bags containing the clothes we left with her. The rooms at the hotel are small and windowless but after Camp Hazen they seem like pure luxury. There’s a communal washroom where I can shave and shower and change into some reasonable, ordinary clothes. For the fun of it I decide to put on a tie. It feels rather strange after doing without one for so long but no one comments. There’s a spacious dining room where most travellers have congregated but I’ve had enough to eat. I want some time alone before setting out on the journey back to our so-called civilisation. Fabian is still fretting as no alcohol can be purchased in Resolute and his own stock is rapidly diminishing. I walk outside and it’s bitterly cold. It feels far colder than at the North Pole, of course I am wearing thinner clothes and less layers. There is a research centre which I try to enter but find it completely locked up, after all it is very early in the morning. I come across the Hudson Bay Services shop which, not surprisingly, is open and sells everything. The Inuit carvings there are more expensive and I prefer my previous choices.
Map Of Arctic Photo Gallery
An Inuk is leaving at the same time and seeing my keen interest in the carvings asks if I’ve come across or seen any Inuksuit. When I express my ignorance of this he volunteers to take me on his ski-doo to show me. My curiosity gets the better of me and we drive a short way beyond the town where we dismount and I see two stone columns built on top of a small hillock. They are the Inuksuit. Inukshuk in the singular, it means, ‘Something representing a man.’ It is meant to resemble the human figure and is composed of a series of stones, one on top of each other, the smallest, the head, at the top. They have many purposes and were created as mystic figures, as guides for travellers, to act as markers, to ward off evil spirits, also to frighten animals (especially the caribou) into various channels where waiting hunters could spear them or shoot them with their arrows. One Inukshuk is about 3m tall, tapering upwards and the other is shorter but has protruding side stones to represent arms. Anil my Inuk friend tells me there are Inuksuit all over the island and throughout the region and they are very much part of the Inuit heritage.
The Inuksuit remind me of the sets of stones I’ve seen in many parts of the world, particularly in the mountains, again used to show the way to follow or to climb. Anil offers to show me more but I know my time here is fast running out so reluctantly I ask him to take me back. Also it’s become much colder and despite my numerous layers I feel it biting through. Anil says that when it gets really cold, usually between 30 oC to 50 oC below, they call it a three-dog night, arising from the fact that hunters would cuddle up with three huskies for warmth during the night. There have been times, in their houses when the temperature has dropped so low, that even with heaters they would still bring their dogs to bed with them.
After Anil drops me off near the store, the wind reduces considerably and as I don’t feel that cold I decide to walk to the airport to explore around there. But it’s difficult to find my way easily. Finally I decide to cross the airfield and I walk past a few standing aircraft. Some crew and maintenance men suspiciously stare at me, presumably wondering who I am but no one challenges me. The airport is now very crowded as a number of other flights have obviously come in as well as many other travellers who are waiting for their connections out. The ABC crew seems to have only just arrived and are bustling around trying to find some rooms to rent. It seems practically everyone else here is also meant to take off with us early in the morning at 2.55 a.m. As always it’s unlikely the flight will leave on time. I’ve accepted the Arctic has a time schedule all of its own.
I walk back to the Narwhal where everyone is eating a meal, although I have no idea whether it’s lunch or dinner or even a late or early breakfast. The Arctic does that to you; your internal time clock freezes and you are ready to believe it’s any time someone tells you it is. Throughout, the continual daylight is whispering into your ear that you’ve just got up and it’s time to get going. It doesn’t really matter and after my forays outside in the intense cold I’m ready to eat anything. It’s self-service and I take lamb, carrots, salad, olives, followed by apple pie, ice cream, various cakes and delicious apples. I hadn’t realised how hungry I was.
Andy Goldsworthy has started an etching, initially made with snow on vellum and tells me he will finish it and give it to me in London. He asks to see the catalogue again with the drawing he drew for me at the North Pole and I can see how really special he thinks it is. He’s very pleased that I had the idea to bring it with me from London, although possibly wishes that he had done one for himself. It’s a totally unique piece. I return to my room and pack ready for our flight out. My bag is bulging from the many Inuit objects I’ve purchased. I lay fully clothed on the bed and in an instant am flat out.
I wouldn’t have got up in time but fortunately for me Julian Calder checks and wakes me at 1 a.m. I am still very tired and slowly wash and go for breakfast. Julian’s next photographic assignment is in Japan, then to China with Prince Charles. We have a light breakfast and then board the van the hotel has provided to take our luggage and us to the airport. We check in to find the incoming plane is again delayed and it’s expected we will eventually take-off at 3.30 a.m. Somehow Fabian still has a half-filled whisky bottle left and it seems appropriate, even at that time of the morning, to finish it off by all of us once again toasting the Arctic, our journey, our memories. Bezal has come across to say a final goodbye and I hand him a copy of one of my books, Exit Of A Dragonfly. He is genuinely touched and will presumably have plenty of time to read it in this slow-moving, leisurely, frozen territory that only comes to some kind of bustling activity for a very few months of the year. There’s a solitude and a special peacefulness here that is waiting for those that have the mind and inclination to search for those priceless treasures.
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