I spent my first day in Yakutsk just catching up on regular life stuff. Doing laundry, and washing each piece of our riding suits one by one. Two hours in the machine for each piece, so 8 hours all up just for Walter and my suits. Then I needed to do regular laundry as well. It sounds boring but when you live on the road, an opportunity to spend quality time with a washing machine is a wonderful thing… 😉
While doing so, Walter went out and met with some friends and contacts. One of them is Tatiana, his French friend Arnaud’s wife.. as well as Yulia and her husband Ivan.
He came back late that night and said they have asked us to visit a traditional Yakut village festival area the next day.
They have this huge festival in June for summer games etc., which we obviously missed. But there is no question by the size of the place and all of structures left behind that it is quite an event! So much emphasis on each of the 12 months, seasons, and shaman culture.
We later learn that Yulia’s grandmother is a Shaman, but Yulia didn’t want to pursue that path for herself due to the strict codes of no marriage, children, etc.
However, the connection explains her passion for fixing up one of the totem poles!
And enlisting her husband to help! Smart woman..
I enjoy having a look around the property and imagining what it must be like in June.
I think some contestants must have left their horses behind!
We are then invited to another section of this park to see what the traditional people are up to this day.
There is a gathering and celebration, and they allow us to watch.
First up, this gorgeous man caught my eye… hey, isn’t this the guy on the totem pole shown above?
Gee whiz he is good looking in a Yakutia elder sort of way!! I can just imagine him with grandchildren singing a traditional song to put them to sleep at night.. I wonder if I can adopt him.
He certainly has a ‘presence’ about him.
We enter – women on the left, men on the right.. as we are blessed with horsetail cleansing.
The traditional dressed women gather…
And a small ceremony begins.
I don’t understand a word, and not sure what it’s about. And Walter is good with Russian language, but he’s not able to interpret, so I just enjoy and get what I can from it. For me, I love their dress. Has an American Indian feel to it, yet distinctive to their own.
We are treated to lunch brought by Yulia and Tatiana.. just gorgeous, simple good food.
And I thought interesting when I was walking past a day tent brought by a family, which just happened to be filled with Reindeer skin.. Sure! Don’t you lay skins in your tent when you go for a family picnic?
After lunch, Mr. Gorgeous man, comes up to me and wants me to follow..
He takes me to this temporary structure, I look inside and it’s filled with ice! Certainly didn’t expect that!
Must be left over from last season. (Don’t mind the drunk having a sleep in the hay there.. every family has one, that’s just part of life.. 😉
It was a warm day, so I took advantage of what he showed me!
The women are still singing away.
We get ready to go, but not until we make an offering. Yulia had saved some of our lunch, and she takes us to a tree.
There is a traditional horse milk drink, and some of the little pancakes. She says some words, and we all contribute bits of food around the tree.
Respect and thanks to the land that has provided for us I would assume!
Later, Tatiana has us over to her house for dinner that night.
We got the greatest surprise.. Pumpkin soup!! I never would have expected that! And it was so darn good.. As was the rest of her meal. Stuffed peppers, eggplant and capsicum salad. all sooo good!
We enjoy hanging out with her. She is very kind, a very special lady. I look at her and I think of Pocahontas. She also seems to have the “presence”, very calming.
Tanya has arranged for Walter and I to meet with a friend of hers who has a new Yakut beauty magazine. The next day we meet at her office for an interview.
This lady also speaks good English as she has had a few years in America, selling cosmetics for Mary Kay of all things!
And then Tatiana gave me a wonderful present. A necklace with the symbol of Yakutia. I love it so much. After so much time spent riding through and really getting to know this region, what a thoughtful and perfect gift that I will treasure!
Later that night, Yulia and her family have invited me over for dinner at their house, followed by a traditional Russian Banya (sauna).
Walter had already done it, and I knew it would be hot. But not sure what else to expect. I didn’t take my camera along, because I thought it was not going be a place for a camera! But I do have some iphone images to share.
What a beautiful meal.. again!! That large piece of pasta is folding up many times into a bowl, and then her veggies and meat go on top. It was divine!
Can we just discuss the cuteness of their puppy!! It’s name is Strike.. another Russian dog with an English name.. striking!
Into the sauna we go.. Yulia doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Russian but we had an excellent girls night!
I get what she is trying to tell me most of the time.. through sign language, books, symbols, etc. We get there!
She gets me all set up in my robe, and we go in and she points to the temperature… 120!!!
Lord have mercy, what am I in for..
She pours water over the hot rocks to make really thick steam, and then she comes in with these branches and beats me all over my legs and my back! Walter told me this is to improve circulation. Okay Okay, I’ve got good circulation!
We are in for only 2-3 minutes, and then out for a rest. She says we do this 5 times. Oh dear… in between we have Russian beer. She tells me this is better than water, not sure why… and we eat little forest berries they have been hunting and collecting.
In again, and again, I am bright red and sweating like crazy. She says, “Harasho, harasho!! (Good good), Need to sweat!! If I understood her right, many people don’t sweat well, but I’ve got plenty of good sweat!
Finally we finish, and I get a big drenching of freezing cold water. Whew! I get dressed and go outside into the cold air, and I continue to sweat. Surely after a big washdown of the cold water, plus standing outside in cool air I would stop sweating at some point. I go into the house to get my things to leave, and I continue to sweat. I am embarrassed, but she keeps saying “Harasho!”
Say good bye to kitty cat, who’s resting on…. A bear?!