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Published: October 5th 2014
Pronouncing the Unpronounceable…
“Give me this glorious ocean life, this salt-sea life, this briny, foamy life, when the sea neighs and snorts, and you breathe the very breath that the great whales respire! Let me roll around the globe, let me rock upon the sea, let me race and pant out my life with an eternal breeze astern and an endless sea before.” Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Apparently, when you go to Greenland by ship, there are a couple of things you have to do! First you have to kiss a fish, which involves kissing a freshly caught arctic char whilst everyone chants ‘Kiss-the-fish-kiss-the-fish-kiss-the-fish.’ This, allegedly, brings the seafarer good fortune and fair weather! It seemed to work for us. Secondly, you have to wear something green because you are travelling in King Neptune’s water, and upsetting him is not wise…! Old Nep must have been somewhat happy with our ceremony, as we had great weather, wildlife and aurora, but we did have a rolling and confused sea.
After two bumpy days on the North Atlantic we entered Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord complex, on the east coast of Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland). The
system of fjords, inlets, islands and mountains is spectacular and we spent four full days exploring the hundreds of miles of ice-choked waterways. Our days were spent hiking, wildlife viewing, and being awed by the towering icebergs. At night we gathered on the outer decks of the ship to watch the dazzling aurora light up and dance across the sky.
We visited Ittoqqortoormiit! Pronounced something like, ‘eetok-kortoor-meet’ (but not really pronounced like that at all). It’s a small settlement of about 450 people at the entrance to Scoresbysund. It’s an interesting and sleepy little place, and one of the world’s most remote villages. The townsfolk all speak Kalaallit (Greenlandic Inuktitut) and have some real tongue twisters, and I am convinced that the language was invented by an angry Scrabble player…
“You can’t play that word – it has 5 Q’s in it!”
“No! It’s a word. And I am using it. It’s worth a thousand points!”…
…We then visited Immikkeertivaqqat (also pronounced exactly as it is written). I’m going to stick that one on a Triple Word Score!
We headed out of the fjord in a storm and were
thrown around the ship as we charged towards Akureyri on Iceland's northern coast. Eight hours later we headed back north again with a different group...
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