Bering Sea and Provideniya

Aug 25, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


The seas were calm this morning after a tiny bit of swell in the night. We crossed the Bering Sea, and by late afternoon the hills of Provideniya were in sight. The day was warm with a slight breeze. Near to Russia a thin fog lay on the water but the town was visible, and our first landing of the trip was scheduled for the afternoon. The town of Provideniya gave us a celebrity’s welcome. The traditional bread with salt was offered as soon as we put our feet on the dock. It was accompanied by a shot of Russian vodka and the rhythmic swaying of Yupik dancers. Dressed in traditional styled garments with furs of local animals, the native people danced and sang on the dock with the detritus of industry behind them. We could have watched them dance for the entire afternoon but the museum and lighthouse and another performance beaconed.

The winds died down and our guides were welcoming and warm amidst the multicolored buildings. Boarded up windows and then new hospital buildings sat side by side. The town felt like and old story with a bit of new life gaining momentum.

Once our town wanderings were complete, we gathered at the performance center for a mixed cultural experience. Drummers and dancers from native traditions performed walrus and gull in flight dances with the deep resonance of throat singing. Intertwined with the native performances were the joyful and light-hearted Russian dances mostly performed by the children of the town.

The grand finale involved us joining the dancers on stage for a few native style dances. I must say our guests did a great job to the delight of the performers and audience alike.

Then it was time for our ship to leave port and for Captain Oliver to welcome us all aboard with a cocktail party and lovely dinner. Our expedition leader Russ told us of tomorrow’s adventures so we headed to bed with great expectations for another day of exploratory wonders.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee

Naturalist

For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

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