August 29, 2012
Kamchatka-2012: History. And Why You Can Never Trust a Bear.
Day 3. Kutkhiniy Batiy
Before Russians settled on Kamchatka it was populated by Itelmens, Koryaks, Evens, Chukchi and Aleut. The first Russian expeditions to, and settlements on, Kamchatka, and the peninsula’s becoming part of the Russian state all took place in the seventeenth century. Then the Crimean war kicked off, which in 1854 reached as far as peaceful Kamchatka. That was followed by the Russian-Japanese War in 1904… But for a complete history of Kamchatka, have a look here.
But let me tell you an Itelmen legend about the creation of Kamchatka and how the Kutkhiniy Batiy came into existence, as told by our guide – a local hunter.
Once upon a time there lived a raven called Kutkh, who was very hardworking while at the same very amorous. He loved bears, and one day decided to build one he’d gotten friendly with a house – on Kamchatka. The bear turned out to be a bit of a slob, however: while Kutkh was working like mad on getting the house finished, all the bear did was look on and lay about drinking. Naughty bear.
One day Kutkh flew in on a boat – as ravens do in legends – only to hear the bear suggest, “Let’s go get wrecked.” But Kutkh needed to get cracking on the house. But the bear says, “You can’t – I’ll be offended.” To cut a long story short, Kutkh finally gives in and off they go to get hammered.
They drank, and drank, and drank. Some time later Kutkh wakes up to find the forest all overgrown, the volcanos all in ruins, the bear nowhere to be found, all the water having vanished, and his boat stranded. And that’s how Kutkhiniy Batiy were formed (“batiy” means boats in the Itelmen tongue). Kutkh sorrowfully flew off, while the bear became the overlord of Kamchatka.
And that’s what the Batiy look like today – boats run ashore. They’re real popular with the many tourists that come here. And the closer you get to them, the more amazing they become… like pumice-skyscrapers!
A very beautiful sight to see. The only thing that spoiled the overall experience was the hordes of killer insects on the way. Ouch!