Sushi! (July 17, 2009)

The town of Kayak, arctic Siberia.

The town of Kayak, arctic Siberia.

Seth Burgess (left) and Ben Black (right) having lunch on an outcrop by the Kutoy River.

Seth Burgess (left) and Ben Black (right) having lunch on an outcrop by the Kutoy River.

The last couple of days have seen us finishing our geology in the upriver sections and traveling on the Siberian Sloops many hours downriver to the village of Kayak. The journey to our temporary home, where the helicopter will come to take us to the Maymecha river, was mighty long. The majority of the day we paddled, making little progress with the weak current.  By the end of the day even this was difficult for us and Roma and Anya mercifully towed us the last couple of hours into Kayak on their Tohatsu-powered catamaran. Once on the beach, we loaded our considerable baggage onto what Seth excitedly deemed the “Siberian monstertruck” and were checked into our luxury accomodations. Really. Our home for the next four days has comfy beds, a kitchen, and toilets that flush with the simple pull of a chain. Also in this fantastic little town are showers and laundry, and a couple stores. Although not as numerous as those in Khatanga, the stores in Kayak have a claim to fame–cash registers that make use of an abacus. We paid for our groceries this morning by trying to guess how much money was represented by the lines of black and tan beads on (as Volodia put it) the shopkeeper’s “Russian calculator.”

Ben locked the door to our room last night to deter any and all of the wandering Kayak drunkards–of which we had already met a few. In the morning we discovered the malfunctioning lock actually locked us inside our room. We were forced to hail the proprietor of the hotel out our window (which has now fallen off its hinges) to let us out. She is an adorable woman that yells every answer to every one of our statements in the most gregarious, grandmotherly, laughing, smiling way and tickles Ben and tells him he needs to cut his hair. We gave her a letter written by Lindy and she exploded with excitement more than sufficient to fill the small hallway we were standing in. Then, in gratitude, she presented us with a bouquet of salted fish. The Russians got a good laugh at all of this.

Ben joked on the river yesterday that there was a nice sushi restaurant in Kayak and kept expressing his love and adoration for the “great sushi bar they just opened in Kayak.” An attempt to make a joke about the obvious lack of such a thing. Our Russian counterparts did not fully understand the joke, so when we awoke, and were finally liberated from our room, there was a bowl filled with cold, raw fish and sliced onions waiting for us in the kitchen room. Sushi! We ate. Also on the odd-edibles front, we consumed a can of pineapple rounds that was marked as expiring in 2001, the year Ben graduated from high school. Updates on our post-pineapple condition will no doubt follow in the coming days. In semi-related news, Seth broke another toilet.

We will spend the remainder of our time in Kayak sampling tuffs and lavas from the Kogotokskaya Suite (several hundred meters of rock in the middle of the Traps section) and exploring a few large dikes a short distance upriver. Kayak is a coal-mining town (we took our showers in the miners’ shower hall), and so there should be some good opportunities to sample coal-magma contacts. This whole time, we have been trying to keep our sample weight down, because there is a limit on how much Russian customs will allow us to take out. With so many good rocks, this has not been easy. We have also started to look over our maps of the Maymecha area in preparation for our next two weeks in the field.


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