When we decided to take a trip to Italy it wasn’t images of Tuscan Vineyards, walks through ancient Rome, or an interest in the romantic language that brought me here. While all those things sounds great, it was a life long love of a flat piece of dough covered in gooey mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce which put Italy number one on my list.
When I had to take deep breathes and count to ten in order to hold back tears, I mentally checked off the bus ride from Tangalle to Wellawaya as (one of) our worst yet. Standing at the bus stop in Tangalle we saw a bus overflowing with people and when a man told us it was going to Wellawaya we figured we would have to wait for the next one, but he squished us on much to my dismay. Trying desperately not to get pushed to the back where I was sure to have a claustrophobic-breakdown, Nick found me a thin bar that circled the driver where I sat for the next 3 hours causing all circulation to my legs to be cut off. Nick remained standing but eventually shuffled himself to a small corner where he was able to sit on my backpack for the rest of the journey. A quick switch in Wellawaya and we began to climb the mountain roads towards Ella.
Finally, I got my first weekend off work in over 5 months and I took full advantage of it. Spring time in Fort Albany is full of excitement as the majority of the community hops on their Ski-Doos to spend their holidays at spring camps to hunt geese. Many families own tiny camps in the middle of the bush which can only be reached in the winter and early spring because the rest of the year, when there is no ice, the land becomes Muskeg which is a nasty kind of swamp and is impassable by any kind of vehicle. I was lucky enough to tag along with a family and spend the weekend at their camp about an hour west of the town. Even the Ski-Doo ride out was more excitement than I usually get as break up is just starting so now and then the ice beneath the sled would let go and I’d feel my heart rate quicken.
Once we arrived at the camp Bernie and I went out to make our hunting blind which is basically a snow fort with evergreen trees on the top to camouflage you while you call the geese in towards the decoys. We tried for several hours and when we got bored we hopped out of the blind to snap some photos and of course thats when the geese came flying in. Unfortunately neither of us had a shotgun so the geese were only shot with cameras. Who knew these would be the only geese we saw in the whole trip!
I did want to bake something Irish-esque, but without green food colouring or a shamrock cookie cutter it was a lost cause.
Instead I opted for original Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, and had my first hand at making cinnamon buns. Definitely won’t be my last time!
Friday was an interesting day as Anna Michelle, one of the teachers in Fort Albany, phoned the ambulance base to let us know there was a presentation for the students on how to dress a Caribou. A local hunter had brought one of many caribou he had shot with a hunting party roughly 3hrs from town. Caribou are only hunted in the winter as it is much easier to track caribou in the snow and the herds can be reached by ski doo. The pics are pretty gory but its important to realize the cultural significance in teaching the younger generation traditional methods of obtaining food as there are very few families left which know how to hunt and prepare wild food. The kids seemed to be very interested in these kinds of presentations which leaves some hope for these skills to be passed on.