KETCHIKAN, ALASKA (15 September 2016)
Ketchikan — meaning “creek” in the Tlingit language, is known as the salmon capital of the world, with five different species of salmon upstreaming the many waterways surrounding the south-easternmost city in Alaska. It was actually because of this that tribes like the Tlingits and Haidas settled here long ago.
Our excursion started with a scenic bus ride from the docks. Upon arriving at the Saxman Native Village and Totem Pole Park, we were settled in a hall that reminded me so much of one of the old Brent classrooms. It was here that I learned quite a lot about the Tlingits, the history and culture of Saxman and Ketchikan.
Inside the Beaver Clan House (if my memory serves me right), a tribe member talked about the history and culture of Saxman, the Tlingits, taught a few basic phrases in their native language, and talked about the significance of totem poles. Then, we had the opportunity watch a few native dances.
After the show, we made our way to the carving center, where we were able to watch a world-renowned totem carver work on a totem pole.
We then headed to the Saxman Totem Park, where we learned about the different uses of totem poles — they can be used to tell the story of a certain tribe, ridicule people, welcome visitors, honour the dead, or serve as a memorial.
We still had plenty of time to explore Ketchikan after the tour and I decided to look for the infamous Creek Street on my own (I didn’t want to drag my grandparents since it might be too long of a walk).
Creek Street, a residential and commercial area propped on wooden stilts, used to be Ketchikan’s red light district, as it was mandated in 1903 that all brothels be moved away from the city center. A few of the buildings have turned into bars and museums, offering glimpses of how the brothels looked while they were still in operation until 1954.
VICTORIA, CANADA (16 September 2016)
Prior to disembarking in Seattle, we had the quickest stop at Victoria, Canada. The sun was still up when we docked but what took unbelievably long was the immigration. There was a big number of passengers that needed to go through immigration. I don’t know but it seemed like there weren’t enough immigration officers? I don’t know, honestly. But it took SO long. And when we were finally out, the sun was literally just about to set. So when we got on our tour, there was nothing to see. We were even brought to this observation deck but since it was already dark (and cloudy, even), we couldn’t even catch a glimpse of whatever we were supposed to see.
Each port-of-call on this cruise had its own charm. I wish we had more time to explore each town and learn more about its distinct culture and history. It has been years since, but I can’t help reminisce and hope to be back again.