“This is a scary place,” writes Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Tom Bell in his latest blog entry from Pobeda, a remote village in the Russian Far East.

Bell, his wife, Svetlana, and their 16-year-old daughter, Ihila, of Yarmouth left last month for Pobeda so Svetlana, a local dressmaker, could visit family. For Ihila, a junior at Yarmouth High, it was a chance to meet her Russian relatives for the first time.

Pobeda, a village of 1,500, is “located in the middle of nowhere,” Bell writes.

“It seems like a frontier town of the old American West,” he says in his blog. “Walk down the streets here and children turn away and close their garden gates behind them. … I ask some young men if I could take their photograph, and they angrily demand to be paid. One of them asks me, ‘How did you end up in a place like this?’

“Even the dogs are mean. Lena (Svetlana’s sister, with whom the Bells are staying) keeps two chained outside the house. The big one is half wolf and howls at night, launching a cascade of howling and barking among all the dogs on the street.”

Lena’s husband was murdered in 2001. Her 19-year-old son, Yuri, was fatally stabbed last December during a school dance party. Authorities have yet to arrest a teenager most of the village believes is Yuri’s killer.

In his latest entry, Bell says that a typhoon from the Sea of Japan is raging. The heavy rains might be a good thing, he writes, raising water levels in a nearby river enough so a ferry can reach the village and start the family on its journey home.