Kamchatka Days 4 and 5

Hi Everyone

Why am I writing two days as one? You will understand soon enough.

We woke up yesterday morning and the fog was so thick that we decided to not do our morning shoot but wait and see if the fog lifted. Breakfast was great. We all sat around a long table. The breakfast that our Russian woman cook makes is spectacular. She made pancakes, eggs, bacon and great hot oatmeal. The Russians have caviar with their pancakes. I decided to see if I liked it and found the combination to be excellent. The hot oatmeal hit the spot. The Russians put lots of jam and marmalade in their hot oatmeal.

After breakfast the rain hit us. We just sat around. I went back into my tent for a nap. Am still dealing with jet lag. I decided to take a shower after lunch and change my clothes.

After lunch my shower was set up. A separate tent was used as the shower tent. Hot water is heated via gas and pored into a large canister similar to a fire extinguisher. There is a spray hose attached and you first lather up and then spray yourself off. If the water pressure gets low you pump the canister. I felt so good after refreshing myself and changing my clothes. I then went into the Kamaz to read and of course, took another nap.

Dinner was served at 7. The cook is quite creative. We had some tasty soup and chicken with rice.

I need to talk a little bit about the coffee. There is a coffee thing that is used here that I have never seen. The product is named “Blendy”. It is from Japan. The coffee is sealed in a small filter with a hanging arm on each side. You tear open the filter and hang it in the cup. You then pour water into the filter and the cup fills up. When the cup is full you then throw the used filter away. Google “Blendy” and read about it. Makes an excellent cup of coffee.

After dinner we all crawled back into our tents hoping for the weather to change in the morning.

We were awoken by Vladimir, our Russian Pro photographer at 4:30. He said there was a chance to capture the sunrise over the three volcanoes we were near. All seven of us had some coffee and then went for a mile hike to hope for the sunrise over three huge volcanoes. The fog never lifted and our chance of seeing this supposed amazing scene was gone.

We then had another great breakfast and watched the traveling crew breakdown our camp and load everything into the two Kamaz.

It was now time to return to the land version of the Drake Passage. Up, down and bouncing around as we drove over the hilly plains and finally entered the forest. The forest was more of the same ride as our Kamaz continued to remind me of the Drake.

Finally we left the dirt road forest and drove onto a semi normal road to a small village. What a scene. In the middle of no where were these square and rectangular shaped three to four story apartment buildings with single family homes amongst these structures. A small Russian style church was there. We wandered around and I ventured into two convenience style stores. Most of the people were either walking or on bicycle. There were some large dogs, without collars, resting in the middle of the road. I could only imagine what it was like to grow up and live here. To be so isolated from the rest of the world and live in such a barren place.

We then boarded our Kamaz for the drive to our second isolated camp. It was back into the dirt road in the forest for more of the bouncing. We finally arrived at what looked like a dry river cluttered with branches and trees. The ground was black lava like sand. The crew stopped for lunch and I saw our driver look into the engine area of the Kamaz. He pulled out a metal wire and spoke some Russian. We were told that the Kamaz needed to be repaired and the other Kamaz, with our supplies, was going back into town for a new part. It seemed like we were dealing with Murphy’s Law.

Three hours later, the other Kamaz finally returned. Our driver took out a small sodering torch, heated up the flame and put some screws on the metal part. He then proceeded to install the new part. It seemed like we were driving in a mobile repair shop as well.

Off we went. Back into the forest for some more bumps and bounces. We were told we were still four hours away from our final destination. After about two hours we stopped in the middle of the forest for the bathroom and and to walk up to the end of a lava field. The lava came from a volcano that was ten miles away. The flow started in late 2013 and lasted for nine months. I could just image the scene as this was happening.

Of course, we had to board our Kamaz for the final two hour drive to the Camp. When we pulled in I saw about fifty tents set up and two small wood dining halls. The ground was all volcanic ash. We were on the side of a volcano. The first thing I had to do was go to the bathroom. Everyone knows that I have used all types of bathrooms and endured them all. This was horrible. A hole in the ground surrounded by dirty looking wood and some human waste behind the wood. What will I endure for unique images and how far will I go? More on that later on.

The crew set up dinner and we were served Siberian Dumplings. They are small dumplings with either pork or beef inside. Very good and tasty and were well cooked.

Our guides, Vladimir and Dimetri, both told us that we were going to be woken up at 4:30 for a hike to see the sunrise over a volcano and some lava fields. We then wandered to,our tents. By this time it was raining. What else can happen in this comedy of errors? I crawled into my tent and then I heard it. Loud and I mean loud snoring. It seemed like there was a bear sleeping amongst us. The topping on the day. Hearing loud and disruptive snoring all night.

What will happen tomorrow?