I met a woman, Joyce Foy, on my trip to Churchill Manitoba, Canada on one of the 8 -12th November.
Polar Bear Tours put on by Travel Wild Expeditions. Joyce used to live in the Cayman Islands and she had heard about Ivan, but not much, so she was excited to get first-hand news of the situation here since the hurricane.
One day during the tour Joyce excitedly suggested, ‘You should write a story for the Caymanian Compass.’
I smiled and nodded, excited but also unsure.
When I made up my mind to do it, I decided the article would have to be about my favourite things; after all, the subject of my favourite things is how my adventure into the sub-arctic began.
It had been one afternoon around July 2004 that I had somehow got to discussing with my friend, Diane, animals that would be cool to see in the wild.
A picture of polar bears flashed in my mind and stayed there but I said to her disappointedly, ‘…I suppose I am not likely to ever see polar bears in the wild, am I.’
She replied, ‘There is a place. Churchill.’
Thrilled, within about two weeks I had made arrangements to go. The trip was incredible, but, like the song, ‘My Favourite Things’, from the classic Christmas movie, ‘The Sound of Music’, I’ll share just a few of my favourite things:
Smiling with excitement at seeing myself in my new sub-zero goose down jacket, winter boots, ice cleats and other items I’d ordered for the trip;
Great timing, our group got to see something rare – anesthetized bears being prepped for and airlifted out into the tundra;
Getting what my heart desired and more, I wanted to see the bears in winter conditions. There was a blizzard beginning the day after air arrival into Churchill resulting in temperatures below 0 F – exacerbated by wind chill factors;
Walking to dinner in a magical snow storm where showers of crystal-like snowflakes fell on and all around me making the snow-covered road sparkle as if made of diamonds;
Photographing bears from the tundra buggy’s observation deck all bundled up with freezing winds whipping at my body seemingly intent on turning me into an icy statue;
Watching bears play-fighting, on our group’s last day in the tundra buggy;
Getting my passports stamped with ‘Churchill Polar Bear Capital of the World’ after trekking through town in blizzard conditions for this unique souvenir;
Laughing with an initially ‘icy’ souvenir shop salesgirl after being teased that I was a difficult customer for wanting the pretty blue polar bear apron with straps that she found hard to undo and for agreeing that she wrap cute souvenir chocolates inside super-size bubble-wrap; listening to Marilyn Mosberg tell me her soon to be published fairy-tale-story,’Willow’;
Lucking out and seeing the awe-inspiring aurora borealis (‘northern lights’);
Meeting such wonderful people;
and coming home, to some my most favourite people, places and things. For more information visit: www.TravelWild.com.