to the effects of the midnight sun, my husband
and I both got a bad case of pareidolia. For example, we started seeing familiar shapes — such
as an Egyptian sphinx and the Eiffel Tower — in
the icebergs. The tendency to observe the specific
in the ambiguous was particularly pronounced
when twilight rays from the low-lying sun cast
surreal golden hues on the water and ice.
Almost every day there was a Zodiac excursion, hike or community visit. Throughout the
duration of our cruise, we saw many different
species of birds, five polar bears, two musk ox,
several types of seals and humpback whales,
as well as hundreds of icebergs, some northern villages and historical sites related to the
doomed 1840s Franklin Expedition.
On one Zodiac excursion, we found
ourselves next to a huge iceberg at the exact
moment it calved and lost massive chunks of ice
from both ends. The resulting tidal wave almost
swamped our boat. If not for the quick actions
of our driver, we would have experienced the
polar swim earlier than planned.
Aaju Peter, the onboard cultural specialist, provided plenty of insight into the local
way of life. She performed an Inuit welcome
ceremony and arranged for passengers to
taste traditional Inuit foods. Though adventurous enough to try several different kinds
of raw fish, I wasn’t brave enough to taste raw
seal brain (which she described as her most-loved food).
By the time day four rolled along, I was
getting used to adventure. But as I stood on
the gangway ready to leap into the Arctic
Ocean, I hesitated — and it paid off. The
woman in front of me was a slow swimmer,
and it took her a long time to climb up the
ladder after her plunge. Finally, once she
exited the freezing water, I leaped in, stifled
a scream and swam so fast that I might have
been mistaken for an athlete.
Now, if anyone ever doubts my athletic
prowess, I just show them my Adventure
Canada Swim Club badge. X
sails through the
Musk oxen are among the
many species spotted
during the cruise.