Monday, March 4, 2013

Guest Post: Expectations vs. Reality

Next up in our guest poster series - a fellow Ontarian who moved to Baker Lake at the end of 2012 - a true "newbie's" perspective! 

Take it away, Jeremy...
In the Feb. 20 post, Lily mentioned meeting someone in Baker via the blog. I'm that someone. The day after we had dinner, she asked me if I'd write a guest post for the blog describing my experiences in Baker so far. I'd like to say I spent days and days getting this post just right, but the reality is that Lily asked me in the morning, and wanted it in her hands by the evening. (Lily's note: I'm very demanding of our friend we just made, I know!) I didn't want to write just a laundry list of a few of my experiences, and so most of my time was spent trying to decide on a framework, or a bit of context, for the post. As much of my time went into thinking, and less to writing, apologies if silly mistakes of spelling or grammar have made it by.

After all that thought, I decided I wanted (perhaps even more for myself than the readers) to compare my experiences after four months to what I had expected before I moved.

The Weather

Before: I thought I was going to freeze all day, every day between November and May. I bought an expensive and warm Canada Goose parka, big boots, and was prepared to go out every day with 8 layers on.

After: On the day I flew up to Baker, I forgot my parka in an overhead bin on the flight from Winnipeg to Rankin Inlet. Oops. I realised this on the flight to Baker, and let the flight attendant know. While my jacket  made it to me the next day, I spent the first day there with just my wimpy little Ontario coat. While cold, I didn't freeze.

Judgement: While the weather here is extreme, the here by blizzards in particular, I don't sprint from place to place outdoors like I thought I would. I've come to enjoy being out in the cold, and feel everyone should have the chance to experience -58 weather. It's important to note I'm not trying to minimize the dangers. People in Nunavut are killed by the weather every year, and I definitely take it as seriously as I need to. Also, walking over top of 10-foot snow drifts is pretty entertaining, though I do worry about falling right to the bottom.

The Travel

Before: Oh, it's just a few flights. And you say I'll be traveling for work? Cool.

After: I have to fly somewhere again? Ya, great, thanks. I can't wait to spend another four days trapped in a hotel. Sure, flying is OK, I guess, maybe.

Judgement: I *love* flying. I'm an aviation nut. I read about planes, I play flight sims, I always pick seats that let me watch the wings, so I can see as the pilots operate the flaps, spoiler and thrust reversers. Travel in the north, though, is so much more than flying. I've travelled a few times, and gotten trapped on two of those trips. It never works out quite the way you think it will. It's not all bad, though. When I was trapped in Rankin I got to go see a Jordin Tootoo charity fundraiser at the rink. While the additional time that travel in the north can force on you can be a bit annoying, it is still great to have a job that lets me see other places now and again.

The Food

Before: Well, the money my job pays is nice, but clearly I'll be using it all up to buy food. The things i love most, milk and cranberry juice, are terribly expensive. How will I live without those things?

After: Man, they weren't kidding, food up here is expensive. On any give day, you can go to the Co-op store or the Northern and be blown away by the prices of a great variety of every-day food. How on earth am I ever going to save any money? Well, you know, maybe if I grab the flyer, and learn not to be as wasteful, and eat less (gasp!), I can save a buck here or there. Eventually, a fairly strict food-budgeting process not only let me save money, but I lost weight, too.

The Judgement: Lily and Jeff have written more than once about food, and I don't want to re-write that (they're better writers, anyway). I will say, though, that the combination of how water is supplied, and the cost of food, has really led to me cutting down on waste in those areas of my life, and rather drastically. There are things, though, that I have trouble resisting. Man, do I ever spend too much on milk.

I'd go on (and on, and on) but I think that will do for now. In many ways, I had a decent idea of what I was getting into, but the reality pretty much always turned out to be just different enough to make things interesting (note: that does not include blizzards. I had *no* idea what a blizzard up here was like. None whatsoever). I wouldn't have traded this experience for any other living-in-new-places stints I've tried.

Absolutely worth it .... so far.

Are you interested in guest posting on our blog? We welcome you to post a comment below and express your interest - we'd be happy to "host" your stories on our blog as well! -L&J

1 comment:

  1. Love hearing the different peoples perspective on Baker. One of my highschool friends lives there now it is always good to learn more about the western parts of Nunavut!