Up there.

Iqaluit Arrival


If flying into Kuujjuaq was, "oh, my, god," coming into Iqaluit was "holy shit." Not a green thing in sight. But even more beautiful than Kuujjuaq, in my opinion. And dramatic: Not a sign of human inhabitants until we had almost hit the runway. And, then, the famous yellow airport. I had seen pictures of it but thought that they must have been taken in distorted light. But Iqaluit airport really is a bright, welcoming, Big Bird shade of yellow. Inside, unlike Kuujjuac, it has not been remodeled in some time and has bright orange plastic bucket seats to complement the yellow exterior. But the important thing: All of my luggage arrived and in no time at all!

Getting the four large, heavy rubbermaid containers out of the airport was a an adventure. Chris, the nice young man sent by the Dept of Health and Social Services to meet me, and I each loaded up two of them on a baggage cart and exited, to find a steep metal switchback ramp as the only way to the ground. We looked at each other: What could possibly go wrong? Precarious, but we made it without seriously injuring ourselves or others. Then on to unloading into the apartment, which does have an elevator, although we didn't discover it until we had dragged 2 bins down the stairs.

Then to the office to meet some colleagues, a trip to the library to check the internet, and a reality check on those famous exorbitant Nunavut food prices. But that's for the next post, along with my unusual first day on, and off, the job.


My flight left Montreal on Monday morning. Dave saw me off after we spent the previous night in a beautiful (yet cheap!) hotel in Montreal, near McGill and Mount Royal, and with great Indian food for dinner at The Taj. Indian food is a rare treat in our Maine neck of the woods and, I am guessing, in Iqaluit.

The plane stops at Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec before continuing to Iqaluit. As we broke through the clouds coming into Kuujjuaq my first thought was, "An allergy sufferer's dream!" A lot of rocks with green and yellowing evergreens mixed in. Pretty barren, pretty stark, and absolutely beautiful. Not as stark from the ground; there were also many grasses and other living plants.


The buildings and other developed areas in Kuujjuaq are less beautiful, at least from the air. I imagine that mineral extraction is a big part of development up here, with all the unpleasant effects on the landscape that come with that. Because of this and owing to a narrow choice of building materials, the architecture seems to be - how shall I say this - purely functional.


Not so the actual airport, though. It is small but has been thoughtfully designed with blond wood, steel posts, and northern ocean scenes. It reminded me a bit of the Reykjavik airport on a much smaller, less expensive scale, so clearly those northern architects are sharing ideas. But the same damn auto-flush toilets that are seen at nearly every airport, the ones that give you that oh-so-pleasant unintentional bidet experience before you're finished your business. What are these things doing up north, where sewage and water processing are presumably tricky and expensive?! I hate them in the south and I'm positively incensed at them in the north.


On to Iqaluit. I count fewer than 15 passengers on our generous-sized B737-200 plane. We're about to descend.

My plane

Headed North

As many of you know, Heather is in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada working temporarily as a "tobacco reduction specialist" for the Nunavut Government. This is the spot for her news from the north!

Where is Iqaluit? On southern Baffin Island, north of Hudson Bay.