Dutch Harbor. Wow. Every small fishing town in Alaska is different from the next and mind blowing in an unconventional way. I am sitting in the airport waiting for the weather to clear so that I can take a 20 minute flight on the Grumman Goose to Akutan. Or else I wait for a boat to come and get me so we can take the 5 hour trip there.
It feel like I am in a miniature big city. There are people from all ethnicities here. Next to me are the Vietnamese (?) kids who apparently learned how to speak and dress from BET. Urban slang with a Vietnamese accent. Across from us are the Mexicans with the typical “No mames guey” every other sentence. It’s like being back in the restaurant industry. Special high five fist bump and all. The people working for the airline are all Filipino.
I am here wearing a flannel, rocking a patchy beard, wearing an Orvis hat and reading the Monkey Wrench Gang. Not that anyone is taking notes but me.
People are glued to the TV catching up on the sports highlight that they have missed due to their time at sea. Of course I am staring at my own screen occasionally looking up to see the Bering Sea whipping up whitecaps. It is making it difficult for the birds to fly and impossible for any trees to grow. The fact that there is a thriving multibillion dollar business based out of Unalaska is truly amazing.
There are lots of statistics about how dangerous life is for a fisherman. 0.1% of miners die working and 0.2% of fisherman die out here. But there is no other food source that we still primarily hunt. Fishing techniques have changed, but the basics are still the same. In fact, people prefer to eat wild fish. We don’t hunt cows, chickens, or pigs the way that we still hunt for fish. We do farm fish, but many people hate that!