Stories

Waiting for two weeks in Anchorage

by Jorge Sanchez - 4 years, 7 months ago

I flew to Anchorage during May 1991 with the hope to find a job in the fishing factories in the Aleutians Islands to earn enough money to continue travelling around the world. But the time passed and the fishing season did not start yet. In order to save money I stayed for free in a kind of Salvation Army together with many Mexicans and South Americans with the same purpose. During that time in Anchorage I used to visit every day the beautiful and modern Public Library, and read a lot about Alaska. The first thing that I learnt was that during the Russians colonization of Alaska arrived a bishop called Veniaminov, who stayed there more than 30 years preaching Christianity to the locals. He introduced the Cyrillic alphabet, and were written in Russian language the first books about the native people. That is why today there are many Russian orthodox churches in Alaska. The Russians Bering and Chirikov discovered Alaska in 1741 and the Russian Government sold it to USA in 1867 (well, Bering was Danish, but served in the Russian Army, and died in Bering Island in his way back to Russia). The Spaniards were also in Alaska. They made many expeditions with base in Mexico and in San Francisco, California (which were Spanish possessions). Perez y Hezeta in 1774, Bodega y Quadra in 1775, Arteaga in 1779 and a dozen more Spanish expeditions until the year 1795, made many discoveries in Alaska. But the most important was the Alejandro Malaspina expedition, from 1789 to 1794, who named more than 200 geographical points in Alaska. But the English George Vancouver (who named Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada, with his name, although the island had been discovered by the Spaniards), who arrived to Alaska to meet Bodega y Quadra to solve a diplomatic problem in Nutka between Spain and England, changed most of the Spanish names in Alaska by English names instead. That is why today, out of 200, there remain only the following few Spanish names: Cordova, Valdez, Malaspina Glacial, Haro Strait, Revillagigedo Island, Port Angeles, San Juan Islands, Esteban Point, Fidalgo Island, and one or two more. Finally, after two weeks waiting in Anchorage, I got tired of the cold weather and left Alaska for Cayman Island, in the Caribbean Sea. I did not earn any money in Alaska but I learnt a lot of history and made many friends. (During my second journey to Alaska, in the year 2008, flying from Provideniya (Chukotka) to Nome, I had the opportunity to see again Anchorage, from where I caught the Denali Star train to Fairbanks).


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