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Russia through the eyes of a foreigner: 48 hours at the Pole of Cold
Saturday morning, over a cup of coffee, I saw a letter with an invitation to Yakutia for an ethnographic holiday. "If you are ready, send me your passport details," wrote the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Russia. My heart almost jumped out. This is a chance to go to the Russian Far East, to one of the coldest points in the world! Seven days later I was at the Domodedovo airport and boarded the plane.
The first thing that captures the view of the traveler, exhausted by the 6-hour flight Moscow-Yakutsk - a huge poster: a local beauty with a long braid in luxurious white furs and diamonds reveals her arms with the words: "Almazergienbank welcomes you on Olonkho Land." "I wonder if there's enough heat from these commercial hugs to get at least to the taxi?" - I thought.
The cold struck directly into the lungs, tickled the throat. I coughed. Spontaneous reaction of the body to the cold, from which the body contracted, as if for a moment thought about how to respond to these new sensations. After living for some time in the northern latitudes, I already knew the sensation when everything in the nose freezes and thaws with every breath, but that's so, to a cough - it was something new
We are heading for the snow-covered parking, flooded with the light of the neon lights of the terminal. I am a seed, trying in vain to keep up with my guide, which now and then disappears in the steam and exhaust steam compartments from working engines. The door of our minivan flew open, and, jumping inside, I proudly thought: "I did it! I got to the "coldest city on the planet", Yakutsk, the capital of the Russian Far Eastern republic of Sakha (Yakutia) ".
Later, during an interview with the mayor of the city, Aisen Sergeyevich Nikolayev, I learned that Yakutia is known not only for its record low temperatures recorded in the city of Oymyakon, the famous Cold Pole, which is considered the coldest point in the Northern Hemisphere and the coldest place on Earth, but also a place with an extreme difference between winter and summer temperatures - with an amplitude from minus 64 frost in winter to plus 42 heat in a short Yakut summer - in as many 106 degrees! “To fall in love with Yakutia, come in the summer,” the mayor advised with a smile, “and in order to understand it, in the winter.”
Well, we're on time, that's just where to start?
The Republic of Sakha, named after the Sakha tribe, or Yakutia, is about the same size as India (or four of France, as the locals like to say). Yes, India, but with one thousandth of its population, a third of which lives in Yakutsk. The population of Yakutsk is very young, the average age is only 29 years. In the city there are more than 30 higher and secondary special educational institutions in various fields: from economics and finance to art, but most importantly, people do not leave from here. The problem of mass flight to Moscow, from which many Russian regions suffer greatly, is not worth it. And even those who were temporarily blinded by the lights of the capital, as a rule, still return to their hometown, such as the actor and director Alexei Egorov, whom I talked to.
“Do you have wolves?” I asked one of our guides, who was wrapped in fur from head to toe, thus making a timid attempt to apply my very poor knowledge of Yakutia. The image of a pack of wolves raging in the northern forests was firmly imprinted in my memory after reading a newspaper article a few months ago. But about wolves attacking deer and horse herds, it seems, no one seemed to burn with desire.