23 August 2006
Life onboard Tara continues in Tiksi, Northern Siberia. Slowly but surely we make advances with our preparation for departure. Between fulfilling official bureaucratic requirements, completing jobs on board and searching for last minute supplies there is not a lot of spare time in the day. We have however, had the pleasure of hosting two local school groups this week Visits that were as enjoyable for us as they were for the children, who are unaccustomed to seeing foreigners or a vessel such as Tara.
We are also discovering the life of Tiksi behind the closed apartment buildings and empty streets. In this harsh environment there is a lot of hidden activity inside, you just have to know where the action is. Finding the local museum provided us with a fascinating insight into the indigenous culture of the Yakustk, a nomadic people who lived a hunter gatherer existence in a bygone era. Visiting the natural history museum, which is also charged with the responsibility of managing the Lena River Delta Natural Reserve, has provided us with a greater understanding of this unique ecosystem. Covering an area of 30 000 km2, the delta is the northern terminus of the Lena River, which stretches 4270km to the south through a total catchment area of 2 490 000 km2 (five times the size of France).
Back on board, we have seen the departure of Sergey and Svetlana, whose assistance from Murmansk has been greatly appreciated. Joining us yesterday from France were photographer Francis Latraille, film crew including Bruno Vienne and Jean Afanassieff with assistant Helen Santener, polar guide Francois Bernard, Romain Trouble and Bernard Buigues from the Tara Expeditions logistics team. With the arrival of Etienne Bourgois, the head of Tara Expeditions, tomorrow we only await final boarder clearance before continuing our adventure north.