The weekend in Yakutsk was a chance to relax, catch up on internet and blogs and kick back with some beer and wine. Out of the blue, we scored an invite to go out and check out a festival being held just outside of Yakutsk by the Yukagir people. These guys are an ethnic group of just 1500 people who live mostly in the lower Kolyma River region, 2000 km away. There is a specific ethno-complex not far from Yakutsk where a lot of the different nationalities of the region hold important functions.
These groups also include the large Even and Evenki nationalities, the largest of the indigenous groups who lived here herding reindeer before the arrival of the Yakuts about 800 years ago and the Russians about 400 years ago. The Yakuts, to many westerner’s surprise, are not the indigenous people in Yakutia.
As the ceremony was winding down, a priest of Tengri, the blue sky, showed us around the complex, and some of the traditional facilities they have there.
Sherri Jo, Daniele and I were taken out there by a Yakut couple, Ivan and Yuliya … who later invited Sherri and I back for separate dinners and banya sessions at their home. Ivan had recently returned from Chukotka and offered me a Chukchi delicacy … frozen whale blubber.
Monday was a day for sorting out assorted motorcycle bits n pieces. I needed a spot of welding done, and we both needed some material repairs. SJ needed a zip repaired on her tank bag. Another Artyom, a local dirt biker, led us around town on his WR450.
While Sherri Jo was being interviewed for an article in a local woman’s magazine, I bumped into “Miss Yakutia 2007” … who tried out the X-Challenge for size: At 5’11″ (1.80m) and legs to match, she was tall enough for it, thats for sure.
We were both given a parting gift from Tanya, one of the nicest people we met in Yakutia (and that’s really saying something) a Yakut good luck necklace. Not only had Tanya cooked us up a bang up meal, but she had been the one to invite us to the Yukagir festival, and introduced us to Ivan and Yuliya – in effect, she was our linkpin in Yakutsk.