Quelques jours à bord

  • Noel a bord de Vagabond

"Are you going back already?", are asking most people we meet in Grise Fiord on Wednesday afternoon. Here, festivities don't stop between Christmas and New Year. But we need to look after Vagabond and after our four dogs. Even if I already did a return trip, alone, last Monday (all was frozen on board), we decide to go back four of us for a few days, in order to warm up the boat, charge the batteries, feed the dogs... to have a little family party as well, to not stop scientific work, and to rest a little bit!

In the end, Raymond arrives by snowmobile on 24 December around 9am, without notice. I wake up the girls and we all board the big sleigh. It's cold (-39°C), but pack ice is quite smooth and the fifty kilometres are done without a hitch, with a faint midday light allowing us to see the mountains. Splendid. At noon, we are in Grise Fiord! We left the village on 6 October and we are a bit confused with this return to "town". By the time we had a shower (what a luxury), and we gave a hand to the nurse to carve a big turkey (little health problems can wait), we meet all inhabitants in the gymnasium. Tables are laid out for 110 people, Christmas Eve party is organised by the hamlet, many volunteers prepared dishes, decorated the room, wrapped gifts... and everyone is bringing place settings and a gift. After the feast start the first games. Aurore and Léonie are very happy to run around with other kids, on a hard ground and with light clothes. France and I are glad to see again our local friends and take some news. At 11pm, almost everybody manage to enter the little church, which door had remained half open. So everyone keeps his jacket on to listen to Larry, accompanied for songs by Jimmie on electronic organ. At midnight, back to the gym where the arrival of Santa Clause engenders general jubilation. It's Ron Elliott, member of the Nunavut Government, who is having the white beard this year, he gives out one by one all the gifts. Ron came to Grise Fiord to better understand local problems. Without outside link for days, the town was missing food, mail, and travellers were not able to leave or come back... but on 23 and 24, three planes could at least land and resupply the town for Christmas.

The next day, we are invited to a Christmas diner with several families, before another games night in the gym. Nights start around 7pm and can last until dawn (so to speak). The town is sleeping in the morning, the store is open from 3pm to 5pm, a meeting place that cannot be ignored. We buy some vegetables and fruits, and take delivery of many parcels! When leaving the nice house lent by Liza et Aksakjuk, with their snowmobile, the sleigh is heavily loaded (gifts offered by our Grise Fiord friends, gifts won at games, seal meat, bags of washed clothes...). I manage to follow my track from two days before, surprised to be able to tow such a big sleigh with a simple snowmobile. Even so, bends are not easy to negotiate!

Tomorrow, we will go lighter to Grise Fiord, where we are invited to celebrate the New Year.