We got up to a beautiful sunrise at about 10:30am. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. No wind. But, the temperature was -35. It felt much cold than the previous day. We awoke to more reindeer meat, more tea and more bread. Many of us had to use the bathroom, but there are no bathrooms in the tundra. So, we just used the outside. We had to be careful because the reindeer CRAVE salt. Guess what’s in urine. We had to strategically walk away from the herd and not look like we were doing our ‘business,’ otherwise they would RUN to you.
We got ready to hand out the Christmas gift boxes at around noon to the few children who were in this camp of three teepees. Then, we had church. One of the men in our group, Boris, preached a wonderful message, then we sang songs, ate again and prepared to head back to Beliarsk. This is the typical food you’d receive in the tee pee — raw reindeer meat, bread, crackers, and tee.
In tee pee living, the woman is the queen of the tee pee. She rules. She sets up the tee pee, keeps the fire going, cooks, takes care of the children, etc. Men are only guests in the tee pee. Their job is to care for the reindeer heard. This particular family owns 500 reindeer. They can sell it for $5.00 per pound, or $10 per pound in the city. The reindeer feed off the tundra, so when all the feed is consumed, they move somewhere else. It takes nearly a day to strike camp, move and set up camp again.
The ride back to Beliarsk was only 3 hours, this time, but still grueling. Each person on our team is sore and exhausted, but truly thankful for the opportunity to explore the world and have a small impact on someone’s life. We arrived back in Beliarsk at around 8:00pm, got warm, ate dinner, had some good fellowship, and traveled two hours back through the winter road to Salehard. It was a great adventure. Now all we have left is sightseeing in Salehard, travel back to Moscow for a little more sightseeing and then home on Saturday.