chukchi.gifMy plane to Russia leaves on July 4th! Happy Birthday America! I'll be celebrating my homelands important holiday riding a plane to another country. I'll miss the fireworks and cookouts but I have almost reached the closing of my journey and I'll be home soon enough. The journey has been great and I have many stories to share with my friends and family. Following the footsteps of Spencer Wells and our ancient ancestors has been more fun than I ever would have expected. Well, my plane takes off at 10:25 am today. Unfortunately I'll be on more than one plane but I'll get to Russia tomorrow at 9:25 am. While in Russia I'm going to spend my time with the Chukchi people. I hate cold weather so this is going to be quite the experience for me considering the snow, ice, and below zero temperatures they live in. I'll be dressed in layers!

The Chukchi are nomadic so just like Spencer Wells, I will need a guide to lead me to them. It's hard to believe anyone would want to keep traveling in these white out conditions. Walking from place to place probably keeps them warm though. The nomadic Chukchi rely on reindeer as a source of food. I'm wondering what the reindeer rely on with all ice and snow and no grass out here. Looking at the size of the herd, I know that whatever they are eating, there is plenty of it. Chukchi people reside in a yaranga. A tent like structure with an inner sleeping chamber to keep them warm at night. I'll have to admit I was worried when they told me I wouldn't be wearing coat to bed but it took one night for me to understand why. These structures are excellent at holding the heat in. I stayed warm the whole night!

chukchi2.jpgThe family structure is similar to what I am used to. The unmarried children live with their parents. Unwed parenthood is common and is not frowned upon in the Chukchi culture. The Chukchi live a life unaffected by technology out here. Entertainment comes in the form of physical activity or the telling of stories and jokes. They believe all things in nature have their own spirit. During religious rituals the Chukchi are known for using hallucinogenic mushrooms to fall into a trance in order to communicate with the spirits.

The Chukchi have high standards for their kindness and hospitality. They are forbidden to refuse anyone who needs aid. Stinginess is considered a huge defect in a person. As a community they pull together to care for their widowed, their orphaned, and the less fortunate. No one gets left in the cold.

When the Chuckchi people left on the last leg of the Journey of Man they left Russia by crossing the Bering Strait. The Bering Strait has since melted so I'll have to return to my homeland by plane. After they crossed the Bering Strait they began populating North and South America, completing the Journey of Man.

Spending a week with these people has brought me back to the basics of simple living. I will definitely go home with a new outlook on family life and hospitality. The Chukchi don't have much out here living in these conditions but what they do have they don't hold back. And hey, the cold really wasn't that bad either... after I got used to it I didn't even notice. Now I'm ready to go home! It has been a great journey!