Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Seyðisfjörður, one of those Icelandic names... amazing !

Seyðisfjörður or Seydisfjoerdur is a town and municipality in Iceland's Eastfjords region, at the innermost point of the fjord of the same name.

Connected to Scotland and the Faröe, this is a typical icelandic tiny village, with a tiny port deep into the fjord, surrounded by mountains and wild waterfalls.

Settled at the sandy bottom of the fjord, it's almost unreally pretty in the unspoiled breathtaking landscape.

Coordinates: 65°15′ N, 14°0′ W, just one degree below the arctic circle.

Population:  ~ 668 inhabitants.

The town was settled by fishermen from Norway in 1848, on the lowlands of the fjord, where a few farms had existed for centuries. These settlers also built some of the present day wooden buildings.

Seyðisfjörður is now well known for those wooden buildings of the 19th century, and has remnants of old street configurations within its urban fabric.

The town offers a library, hospital, the post office, some retail activity, a visual arts centre, a Technical Museum and local heritage museum, the only two cinemas in the east of Iceland, three small hotels, a swimming pool. Not so tiny, so.

The Blue Church (Bláa Kirkjan) is the absolute central landmark.

Legend says the church, from the 13th century and dedicated to St. Mary, has been moved several times; it was surely moved into Seyðisfjörður in 1921, but after so many changes and a fire no one knows what remains from the original medieval church, maybe just some of the wooden walls.

A praised concert season takes place each summer at the Blue Church.

As tourism is replacing the traditional fishing activity, hotels are growing in number:

Hotel Altan has a terrace café with the best view in town.

Wooden house in blue (the old Pharmacy)

19th century, norwegian style.

One of the few shops in town - the Gullabuid: crafts, decoration, gifts and utilities.

Wooden house in red...

Wooden house in red and white: the Town Hall.

Blue and white too:
The Snaefell Hotel.

The other café in town - this is Kaffi Lara, at the Snaefell.

The small harbour is still active with a few fishing ships, but presently it is mainly dedicated to tourism and leisure.

They fish mostly for herring.

No better place to sit watching the amazing but quiet scenery as the time go by, a warm blanket over the knees...

As Seyðisfjörður is rather isolated by land roads, regular ships provide most of the transport into and from the town. One of them is MV Norröna, from Tórshavn, Faröe Islands.

Seydisfjordur is also connected by ship to Scotland.

The Skaftfell Art Centre

Amazingly, the town also has an Arts Centre:

Skaftfell is a visual art center to encourage the development of contemporary art. It is a meeting point for artists and locals and its activities are based on exhibitions and events, and also an international residency program.

The first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe started in 1906 from Seyðisfjörður, built by Great Nordic Telephone Company.
For several years this was a hub for international telecommunications.

Seyðisfjörður is almost an arctic town, just some 60 km south of the circle.
The longest day and the longest night are close to 21h long.

Some of Iceland´s best waterfalls are located in the vicinity of Seyðisfjörður.

This is Gufufoss:

Gufufoss, 19 m high

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Nightmute, Alaska - isolation and poverty on the wet tundra.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is a natural wilderness area in western Alaska's coast by the Bering Sea.

Nightmute (Negtemiut in Yup'ik) is a village north of the Kuskokwim Delta, on Nelson Island, and on the banks of the Ninglick river - a canal in fact, between the island and mainland. This is tundra territory, patched by several winding arms of water and lakes.

Coordinates: 60° 29' N, 164° 49' W
Population: ~ 280

The nearest settlement is Chefornak, to the south, and it's already been on a post at U.T. here.

There are no practicable roads. Nightmute can be reached by snowmobile or Bush flying, and in summer by boat along the rivers and canals.

The main buildings in town - the School, the Community Center.

Housing for teachers.

The village has no streets - the wet terrain doesn't allow. The houses are connected by wooden boardwalks.

Most residents are Yup'ik natives, living a traditional subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing, and gathering. Fishing for salmon and whitefish provides a staple of the Yup'ik diet along the river.

There is a community center, health clinic and most important of all there is a school, the center of local life.

As other native american communities, Yup'ik eskimos are skilled at making refined grass baskets:

These are at the local Elitnaurviat School's exhibition.

This was made by Theresa George.

Yup'ik artist Jane Wiseman was born in Nelson Island.

The Community Service Center, where most cultural life and leisure takes place.

Poetry reading by the moon at Elitnaurviat school.

The Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta National Wildlife Refuge

The Wildlife Refuge is located where the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers empty into the Bering Sea on the west coast of Alaska.

Nightmute, by the Ningaluk (Ningliq) river, is surrounded by water canals and puddles.

This is one of the largest deltas in the world, larger than the Mississippi Delta. Consisting mostly of tundra, the area is protected as part of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Kuskokwim Delta.

The river's name comes from the Yup'ik kusquqviim, recorded by a Russian sailor in 1826. The principal economic activities along the river have historically been fur trapping and fishing.

Besides the tundra vegetation, the Refuge is home to foxes, bears, salmon-family fish and many bird species:

Cackling Goose

Bristle-thighed curlew

Red fox


Nightmute is, alas, a poorly developed settlement. It's sad to say but it's true: the U.S. doesn't care and protect its native peoples as Canada does; the Nunavut and Northwest Territories native settlements benefit largely more from civilization´s comfort than their Alaskan counterparts.