The word of the day is Cherviac (Maggots!)


When Volodia went to retrieve the rafts, which were stored for the winter here in Khatanga, he discovered that the owner of the storage shed had piled caribou and fish on top of the rafts and then forgotten about them; for the entire season.  It has been warm here for quite a while. The rafts were crawling with maggots and festooned with pupae.

 When we opened the bags, of which there were many, a foul stench gurgled out. It was as if the essence–the pure distillation–of putrefied, rotten caribou blood were being poured down our throats. Gulp. We pulled each raft from its bag, and a wet patter of maggots fell like heavy rain onto the sidewalk. Thousands of white maggots, each about an inch long, squirmed helplessly in piles on the ground. They lifted up their tiny translucent heads and their six stubby, tubby forearms and waved them in the air.  When we lifted up the hollow raft paddles, a cupful of maggots slid out of the open end. Seth insisted the smell was like cat urine, only cat urine that had been mixed with mammoth brains and then left in the sun to sizzle.

 Although traumatized, Ben and Seth were slightly less wounded than the Russians, who intended to call these tents home for the next month.

 The mosquitoes, in a resounding buzz that Ben assured us sounded like “Carpe Diem!!”, began swarming around us, so that the mosquito quotient, with which you are now familiar, was off our recently developed scale. In addition to the maggots, yes there is more, there were thick clusters of pupae glued by (and filled with) coagulated pus to every surface of the rafts. The wettest parts of the rafts, the parts that had been soaking in dead caribou juice, were encrusted with tiny oblong fly eggs.  Fantastic.

 To sum this up, at 10:00 PM in 75 degree weather, we were cleaning boats and tents covered in maggots and pus-filled pupae,  all the while being feasted upon by mosquitoes a-plenty. 

 The upshot of this work? (1) Everything is now “clean” and ready for use. (2) Volodia now knows (and loves) the phrase “We should let this air out…”


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