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Arctic Limbo

Three Russian weathermen spend a year away from civilization

This is the story of three people who may have the loneliest job in the world. Slava, his young colleague Ustin and Ustin’s wife, Rita, are the only people living in the abandoned village of Khodovarikha. Spending their lives in voluntary confinement on a small spit of land on the northern Barents Sea, they work year-long shifts at a weather station. Once a year, a ship comes to bring them supplies. It's their only chance to go on holiday to the mainland or to quit their job completely. Until that day comes, they must find a way to live and work together amicably.

There isn’t much to do in the former village of Khodovarikha. Abundant local wildlife provides ample opportunities for hunting and fishing, while the harsh beauty of the pristine, natural landscape offers a magnificent, meditative backdrop for those who can appreciate being on their own. It seems as though time itself flows differently here than on the mainland. Soon, the lives the weathermen led before arriving here begin to sink into oblivion.

Entries in a log kept by their predecessors provide evidence of the dangers posed by roaming animals, as well as wild behavior by former weathermen in this unsociable environment. Workers here have been known to lose their minds and their tempers, leading to lethal consequences.

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It definitely takes an extraordinary type of person to do this job. Few can enjoy the hermetic existence that is part and parcel of this lifestyle. Another difficulty faced by Khodovarikha's inhabitants is the importance of maintaining a good relationship with those they live and work with daily. As history shows, this skill is essential not only for creating a healthy environment but for the safety of everyone involved. Finally, it takes courage to be able to stay so far away from civilization, as, in the event of an emergency, there is no guarantee that help will arrive in time. By and large, those who work here have only themselves to count on. So, what was it that attracted Slava, Ustin and Rita to this unusual and very demanding line of work?

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