Haines is a very peculiar town. With only about 2,000 people, it didn't take very long before I started to recognize faces and remember names. Vanessa, having lived there all of her life, knows nearly EVERYONE in town. I am not exaggerating. She was naming people in all of the cars that drove past us. She knew everyone in the market, the people at the gas station, the lady walking her dog, the little girls going out for a swim, the guy jogging down the street... Town gossip was very alive. Everywhere I went it seemed like people were talking about other people's personal lives. In a town like that it's hard to live a private life. The best way I could comprehend it was to relate it to my University years. We had a student body about the same size as Haines, Alaska. By the end of my time there I knew the name, hometown, academic specialty and boyfriend/girlfriend of every student. Bizarre, none the less.
I hate to dwell on this point, but I spent a lot of time thinking about community while I was there. There is something organic that happens when you let your guard down and the private sector of life is left open. But there is also something very irritating and restricting when everywhere you go you are predefined.
On another note, my first afternoon I went out on the water with Vanessa and her dad. We had to pull in a halibut skate. We pulled in a 150 lb. halibut. It was unreal!!! The next day we ate some of it, and I think it was the most amazing fish I had ever tasted. It was so fresh that it just melted as it hit my tongue. Here are some pictures of the fish. Notice that it's nearly as long as Vanessa's body. Getting the fish out of the boat was a chore. Mr. Phillips fell backwards into the water while pulling the hugemongous thing onto the dock. It was funny. I had a lot of fish slime all over my hands and clothes but it didn’t seem to matter. This is paradise to me.