The blue sky is back along with a bright and energizing sun when we land with l’Austral along an estuary in Tymlat. Around 500 Koryaks live in this small village. These are the ethnic and oldest indigenous people from northern Kamchatka. Once a group of nomadic people hunting reindeer (Koryak means “deerβ) and moving themselves and their gear during the winter by dog sleds. Now they are more settled and live in villages like Tymlat in simple, weather beaten, wooden houses overlooking the tempestuous Bering Sea. No roads lead to this village and in winter, when icy storms blow over, Tymlat is isolated from the rest of the world.
Shamanism is still deeply rooted here. The Big Raven is the master, the first man, the father of the Koryaks and the protector. When we go ashore, there is a welcome committee waiting, complete dressed in traditional costume: animal skins, colorful beads, hand-made boots and jewellery, … We get a fluff of angora and have to throw it into a burning fire. A welcome or purification before we enter their village? Traditional music is blasting from large, modern speakers are everywhere we spot stands with local delights: lots of dried or fresh salmon, berries, tea, biscuits, fish soup β¦ Itβs quite obvious itβs the women here who are in charge and setting the atmosphere, organizing the dance and the song. Big Raven looks rather passive this time.
Everywhere we see groups of Koriaks enjoying the sun, hanging around their motorcycles or lying in the grass while making small fires to brew tea or munch on dried fish. Women and girls in costume are standing in groups to sing almost hypnotic but simple chants. They move their hips and hands in a natural, rhythmic and sensual way. Shakira is an amateur compared to them.
Four girls are having a small cantus, one holds a traditional fixed drum made from animal skin and she determines the rhythm. They run a little further away from the action and stand in the middle of a field with grass as high as hip height and with views over the bay and the ocean. They sing, dance, laugh and spin their shiny, long braids around their heads. No one is bothering them. Traditions are still important here, even for the youngest generation. The flashy smart phone, which appears now and then from a pocket of a traditional costume, does not threaten yet this entrenched Koryak culture. This is still too far, too isolated from the world as we know it.
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