Alas, there is no internet in Dutch Harbor unless I want to pay a small fortune to access a connection that moves at a slug’s pace. So I decided to write and save blog posts along the way and post them once I’m back on land.
After visiting Dubai for a day, I flew into Seattle and stayed for a few nights at Hotel Hotel Hostel (Yeah, I don’t understand the name either) in Fremont and City Hostel by the Space Needle. The subsequent journey up to Alaska was a bit of an adventure. I flew to Anchorage, then took the tiniest plane over to Dutch Harbor, which is about halfway out on the Aluetian Islands. I never knew such little commercial planes existed. The gate for boarding was actually outside the airport’s security area, like security doesn’t matter for this small of a plane. But weight does. Each person who checked in had their carry on and themselves weighed. One steward served the cabin of about 30 seats and we had to wear earplugs because the engine was so loud.
The view was spectacular. We flew over magnificent snow-covered mountains and icey landscapes. The wind gets pretty strong in Dutch Harbor, so our landing consisted of lots of swooping and banking and a couple of those fast drops that make your stomach jump.
I was hoping to be transported to the R.M. Thorstenson anchored off the coast by helicopter, but instead I took a small boat out that was dropping off supplies and mail. The waves were crashing over the sides, while snow fell densely. I sat on the deck in a rocking chair, starring at the waves to hold off sea seasickness, while I talked to a female deckhand about our abroad travels.
I’ve been on board the RMT now for about a week and the fish have been coming in steadily. We’re processing cod this season, which are vastly smellier than the salmon we did in the summer. The guts reek mostly when the cod’s stomachs are filled with decomposing fish they ate right before being caught. I was surprisingly never grossed out from gutting salmon. Salmon guts are quite aesthetically pleasing, with sleek shapes, well-organized organs and bright colors. But cod are all brownish, slimy and tangled on the inside.
It’s been good to see my friends on the boat that I got to know while working at dock in Seattle in the fall. But saddness is starting to set in. I noticed a happiness high while traveling quickly up and across the globe from South Africa to Dubai to Seattle. (Sidenote: I loved how I got to gradually get back to the northern hemisphere cold weather after being in smoldering Madagascar. South Africa felt like a mild California spring, Dubai had a 60ish-degree breeze with lots of sunshine, and Seattle was rainy, surprise, surprise. So by the time I hit snowy Alaska, I wasn’t startled by the cold temps). When I’m on the move like that I stay excited because of constant new things to explore and I’m at ease because I don’t worry about fitting in since I’ll be leaving soon.
That’s one way travel is good for a person with depression. The rapid change of scenery distracts my mind from its usually-dreary and sometimes-panicky cycle of thoughts. I noticed with each new booking I make and each time I arrive at a new city, I feel the happy chemicals reintroducing themselves to my brain.
But now that I’m essentially imprisoned on an anchored ship and working for 14 hours a day, my mind returns to its worries about living and interacting. I especially struggle with being the odd woman out among a crew of mostly male, rough-and-tumble sailor types.
I find my solice at the end of the work day by pouring a cup of tea, sitting on the deck behind the galley, and looking out across the gentle, turquoise water at the flawless, white mountains.