Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little Yellow Airport

As I hugged my parents and cried like a child, I felt the sadness I was expecting. I knew it would be one of the harder things Ive done in my twenty one years. They watched through the door way as we dropped our belts, glasses and coats into bins, took the cats out of their carriers and walked with them through the metal detectors. We re-dressed, re packed and walked away slowly, waving and blowing as many kisses as I could, we left our lives in Ontario behind. The flight to Ottawa from Toronto was a half hour long. It felt like the plane had only just leveled out when we began descent. We waited only a minute or two to board our connecting flight to Iqaluit. The plane was the same size as the first one, only it was half full. I was surprised to see that so many people were travelling to Iqaluit. The woman sitting in front of us was texting on her cell phone in Inuktitut, I felt my heart flutter, we were getting so close.

This flight was about three hours long. As we took to the air I said a silent good-bye to the trees. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Sex and the City 2, I took time to glimpse out the window, every time holding my breath nervous to see the green thin out. The clouds blanketed the earth so it was a long while before I saw the water. The pool of blue was massive, I guessed that we were somewhere over the Hudson Straight. I watched, and watched, and watched until I started to see rocks in the water, little Islands and my first ever Ice burg. With my face glued up to the window, I cried a few tears, the excitement and freshness of this adventure was turning my stomach round and round. I turned to Matt to say,"Look babe, no trees!" Then the main land came into view and we started to land, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The land looks like the weathered skin of a dirt covered elephant from the sky. When the plane hit the ground it was pouring rain. The little yellow airport looked exactly as it did in the pictures. The door opened, and we walked out straight into the rain. Everyone ran to shelter, Matt and I walked, taking in the rock and dirt that surrounded us.

We were picked up by our new HR Manager, who waited while we took in the new faces, the art and waited on our luggage. I was extremely excited to get to the new apartment, let the cats free from their tiny carry on pet carriers and take a long nap. It turned out, that's not the way it would happen. We waited for what felt like forever as Matt got his information into the airports computer system in hopes we would have his missing suit case returned to us. We dropped our bags off at the apartment, took a trip to the Northmart for grocery's and got a quick tour by truck.

Our apartment is fantastic. Although we may be booted into something smaller when a couple with children is hired, for now, we have a two bedroom apartment. As the HR Manager said, "it's not the Ritz," however it is comfortable. We have a very large living room, bigger than what either of us had at home, a small kitchen and two small bedrooms. We also have 4 large closets, and a big utility cupboard. Jack stays hidden during the day and comes out to lick our faces at night. Sadie loves it here, we've never seen her so cuddly.

We're almost settled in. The fridge has food in it, the closet has clothes in it and I only have one more suitcase to unpack. Today was my first day off since we got here. We landed on Sunday and started work at eight am on Monday morning. The work days are long, ten hours a day, five days a week. However exhausted the days make us, we aren't overworked. There is a mentality here, life is slow, things don't get done and the one thing you hear over and over again is, "Welcome to the North." This is not a greeting, it's said with some degree of sarcasm and used by everyone as an excuse to do things tomorrow. My mentality today was, 'screw the procrastinators mentality.' My goal was to drop the money necessary to change my cell phone number over to an Iqaluit number, hook up the Internet and hook up the house phone. You would be amazed at how long it takes to accomplish anything. I walked around the city, freezing my butt off, wishing I had worn mittens and sunglasses to block the blowing dirt. I got my number changed and I walked over to the NorthWesTel, the only home phone service provider in the city. It was 2:18pm when I got to the front door, the store hours said 'Monday to Friday 1 pm - 3 pm.' The door was locked... Welcome to the North. Then I went over to Qiniq to hook up the "wireless" that we were told about. Here wireless means at least one wire. Still, Qiniq came highly regarded, probably because they were more likely to be open at 2:18pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

We work with people from all walks of life, a lot from down south. I am still a little uncomfortable with the customers, like a newcomer to a country where no one speaks your language. If its not Inuktitut, its french or "Newfanese." I want to open myself up to the world and share all the love I have to give with every person that I meet. The warnings we've gotten however, keep me nervous and make me want to spend some quality time as an observer instead. Lock your windows, lock your doors, lock up your valuables, don't walk alone at night, look out for thieves, drug dealers and kids. We've heard its the younger generation you cant trust, they'll take whatever they can get. The elders, for the most part, bring a new kind of joy to life. They almost never fail to smile and sometimes they laugh this uncontrollable, comedic, heart felt laugh that we couldn't force if we tried.

I came with very low expectations yet still nothing is what I imagined it to be. The natives put so much value into "their land" yet the first thing we noticed in town was the amount of garbage littering the streets. I also hoped that Iqaluit would have a small town charm, and that everyone would be welcoming and warm but the vibe isn't all that different from home. They say that its a different kind of lifestyle here and that if you hope to change it, you might as well go home. I believe that anywhere and everywhere you go, you should leave your mark and it should ALWAYS be a mark for the better. My expectations are shifting and changing, my goals are growing larger and the list of people I want to speak to is growing. I always have these almost unattainable pipe dreams and currently my dream is to change the world, starting with the garbage floating down 'River Jordan' that runs outside our living room and bedroom windows. Ive been told the garbage will re-appear in the blink of an eye, but hey, a girl can dream.

As a side note, I was told yesterday at work that we should be expecting a good snow storm anytime now and that they are talking about the terrible storms to come this winter. It has been said that they are thinking of evacuating Iqaluit because once the power outages start, the generators wont be able to keep up. What excitement!

Cheers to change and discovery,

With love from Iqaluit

1 comment:

Bill stewart said...

Hi melissa,

Hope all is well and wear the sunscreen. Your dad says he would love to see adopt a kid up there