We had one more morning at sea today to continue our progress southward toward the village of Lorino. This gave us time for a presentation on Arctic adaptations and a photo feedback session.
After lunch, we anchored offshore from the village of Lorino, the largest indigenous settlement in Chukotka with a largely Chukchi and Yupik population comprised of about 1,500.
They greeted us with a feast of whale meat and whale blubber, as well as bread, soup, and tea. While we had our snacks, a couple of dog teams and ATV drivers gave demonstrations about travel in the area.
Once everyone came ashore, we prepared for some heated competitions. It started with the women’s tug of war with women from the ship pitted against women from the community, seven-on-seven. National Geographic Orion’s women’s team won quite quickly, but not as quickly as the men’s team lost when their turn came.
The next event was a throwing competition, similar to throwing a javelin or a harpoon, but this time with a heavy wooden pole. The village hunters won quite easily in this category.
The final event was a rowing competition in small skin boats. These craft are very small, extremely maneuverable, and susceptible to tipping. They are rigged with a small set of oars, and our National Geographic Explorer Jennifer Kingsley was the first to compete against a local woman named Valya. Jenny won, much to the surprise of some of her colleagues. (She overheard one of them saying, “Jenny can actually row!”) Expedition leader Russ Evans was not so lucky. Despite a good start and excellent power, his boat was soon spinning in circles, which gave his competition a distinct advantage.
After the games, we walked through town to reach the cultural center where the local dance troupe performed. Aside from many beautiful and intricate dances, the lead dancer was an excellent teacher and soon had most of us standing up to practice our moves.
This is a rugged part of the world, and today we got past the tough exterior to share a few laughs and games with the people who call Chukotka home.