This has turned into a bit of a retrospective, and by that I mean: This is a retrospective. You can read about my first day in Iqaluit here.
Walking is the ideal pace and vantage point to be an observer. Slowly crawling through streets and alleys, head up, ears open. I met an 8 week old pitbull. He didn’t have a name yet. I rudely snapped a picture without even asking. What was that?, I chastised myself. Some strange, touristy impulse to use my camera like a cow prodder, noisily intruding in a world I’m just visiting.
The shore was a surprisingly steep descent from home but the lichen somehow makes hiking downhill much less daunting. If you tripped, you might just bounce. Please don’t quote me on that.
We watched a couple planes fly in and then made our way to the airport to meet our friends. We’re nearly a full house now and the day was soon taken over by afternoon drinking, bonfires, and lots of chatter as the tide rolled in.
With the sun shining on the ocean and even warming you despite the cool air off the arctic ocean, you can barely tell how far north you are. I could’ve sworn we were in Newfoundland or Sctoland, with the green hills and water and rocks. No trees. Some people don’t know that about the northern world, but trees are a treat solely available to temperate and ragingly hot climates. You probably do know that.
One of Iqaluit’s heartbeats is certainly the ocean. It is a beautiful and a powerful force that has kept people in this part of the world alive. The ocean and the waterways streaming toward it cannot be understated.
There are other heartbeats, though. And one of them happens to be the Legion.
The Royal Canadian Legion sprung up after World War I in a bid to unify the support for Veterans. The first time I stepped foot in a Legion, I was very very young. It was dark and I sat at a table with my father and a few men. There is nothing for a child at the Legion. I presume many Canadians have equally vague remembrances of their first time in a Legion.
But the Legion in Iqaluit is an institution. By 5 or 6 pm on Friday night, guests arrive for $20 steak night and $6 cans of beer. It is a heavily regimented place. Come in, sign in two guests, check your coat. No coats on the back of the chair. No public drunkenness (fair). I saw a woman being ripped off the dance floor. I was dancing just as fearlessly. “So it goes,” Kurt would say. My friend has a story about casting her eyes downward while texting a friend, and nearly getting kicked out for looking like she had fallen asleep. Oh, they’re on top of it.
By 9 or 10 pm, it turns into a huge dance party. I won’t draw false barriers between the Inuit and non-Inuit community, because I don’t know the currents that run underneath. I danced until I was a river of dripping sweat. It was fun. My partner had been poached by a woman who kept dancing in front of me anytime I tried to say hello, so I let it happen. Not my concern. I broke my personal vow to never dance to Pharell’s ‘Happy’. I need better goals.