‘After seven years spent in the north some changes happen with the human body. It’s not an illness, no. It’s just your body adopting to the northern climate. There’s less oxygen in the air in the north and the hear arteries widen in 7 years to allow more oxygen circulate through the body and with that some psychological changes happen.’ tells me Nadezhda Noscova, the press secretary of the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrug, and she knows what she’s talking about being originally from Ufa.
‘No one can explain it, but physical changes make people kinder, more warm hearted. These two things are linked somehow. So the north changes people and those who resist the change do not survive here.’
I like the concept that the colder the place is the warmer are people’s hearts even though I’m not sure if it’s true. Maybe just an urban legend but quite a sweet one.
Even though people are kind and open here they would not offer you help if you fall out of the boat while crossing a 6 km wide Ob river. Why? Because no one here wants to go against the will of the ancient Gods.
With the population of only 516,000 people in the whole Yamalo-Nenets region, which is just 1/16 of the population of New York, and the territory equal to 1.5 territories of France, people in the north learned to rely only on themselves and the nature.
And to get the nature’s grace one should never get the Gods angry. Yamval, the God of Ob river is one of the strongest Gods according to nenets believes and if he takes someone, no one is supposed to prevent him.
As Nadezhda is telling me these details about the life here I feel that I like Yamal more and more. In Salekhard in particular and in Yamal in general people will help you with everything possible unless your will goes against the will of nature as here Nature still stands above the human, just like it’s supposed.
Salekhard which is 419 years old feels like something temporary standing in the middle of taiga which has been here for thousand of years. The nature looks at the man smiling and shows that he should play by it’s rules and the man agrees.
Only this balance of the respect to nature and love and care to the other humans has been the base that allowed the man to live in such harsh conditions.
As for harsh conditions today I learned that yesterday the temperature in the southern Yamal dropped down to -52C. I’m not sure what was the temperature in the city but it was really cold so could quite possibly be around -50C.
But yesterday I met too many nice people as well as today.
After having a tea with Nadezhda I went to see the first deputy director of the department for youth and tourism. Stepan kept showing me pics from his summer trip to the northern Urals where he and 6 other grown up man spent two hours chasing the deer calf who’s mom was killed by the poachers.
I was pleasantly surprised with the warm welcome I received in the government institutions of Salekhard. Usually the state officials and journalists do not get along well, but maybe it’s the widened blood vessels in action?