As much as I would like to write something lovely and poetic for my first blog from Alaska, I’m too overwhelmed with the newness of it to be able to form complete thoughts of my impressions and emotions just yet. This is only my second full day here, and I plan to be here three months—so there’s time for being poetic later.
Right now I just want to shoot out a few of the first thoughts I’ve had about Kotzebue:
It’s small. I knew it would be small (3000+ people). But man, it’s small. Three paved streets.
Kotzebue is very different from the interior of Alaska. There are no trees here. None.
The friends I’m staying with have told me about their friends in Kotzebue for years, so in a way it’s like coming to a place where I already know people. It’s fun to put faces to names.
Tundra is cool. We drove outside of town yesterday and hopped out on the side of the road for me to take a few pictures, and I got to see what the plants look like up close—and I got to walk on tundra for the first time. Spongy and squishy. A little unnerving—literally unstable. Or at least that’s what my feet thought.
24 hours of sunshine only contributes to the totally laid back atmosphere of Alaska. No need to get up early in the morning—it’s not like you’re working against time to get stuff done before the sun goes down.
A few weeks back I tried to get a library card in my hometown and was told I’d have to pay a fee because I wasn’t living in city limits. Yesterday, I walked into the library in Kotzebue, after being in town less than 24 hours, and not having a phone number, street address, or mailing address of my own, and they gave me a library card. I checked out a book right then and there. Again, totally laid back. I got used to the laid back way of doing things in rural Asia over the past several years, and being back in the village atmosphere is kind of nice.
Villages are villages anywhere in the world. In a really crazy way, being in Kotzebue reminds me of being in Luang Nam Tha, Laos (except for the part where it’s completely different). The town itself seems about the same size, the streets are laid out in a similar way, and coming to Kotzebue from Texas gave me the same initial feeling as going from heavily populated and built up China to sparsely populated and less developed Laos—this feeling of “goodness, where did all the people go?”
Time will tell how these initial thoughts will change or intensify.
UPDATE: I’ve been around town a little more since that first quick tour on the first day here, and I need to update the number of paved streets – I don’t know how many there are all together, but I noticed that a couple of the side streets are paved as well as the three main streets. But most of them are topped with dusty grey gravel.