The Creature of Qaqortoq Greenland

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July 26th 2018
Published: July 27th 2018
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Today we are blessed with a sunny and clear day in Qaqortoq (cchhah-ka-tocchh). The “Q” is a sound that is supposed to be produced at the back of your throat, not dissimilar to the clicking sound some cultures use in their speech; but, which is foreign to most Americans. I could see the sun filtering in our stateroom window as I worked on the blog. I was enjoying one of my two dark chocolate candies left by our cabin steward. Our steward has been most generous on this leg of our journey, and has left milk chocolate only once. You see, Sharon gets the milk chocolate candies; while, I get the dark chocolate ones. I’m fully expecting Sharon to leave the cabin steward a note, something to the extent, “Please, no more Dark Chocolate.” But she wouldn’t do that, would she?

Tendering started while we were eating in the Lido. I got one of my hard roll cold-cut sandwiches and struck gold when I was able to find some cream cheese to use as a spread instead of butter. And we struck gold again when Sharon said, “They have the large chocolate croissants today.” And they had two of them; so, I got my own this morning.

Up in the Lido we went out to the back deck to check out the weather. The “When & Where” said that today would be 50˚F. There was no wind, and it felt warmer than today’s supposed maximum; but, we decided it would be better to be safe than sorry and we both decided to take our jackets. We went to the Showroom to get our Tender Group Number, and we found ourselves lumped into Red-22. Not three minutes later they called Groups 21 and 22 for boarding. The tender filled up and we were off. That couple on our deck was also on the tender, along with their fold-up bicycles, and I guess they were off to climb some hills. From where we docked, that was pretty much the only way that you could go: up! We got off the tender after a completely smooth ride ashore. We had a bit of an uphill trek up the gangway, and after three days at sea we found ourselves once again on terra firma. We checked out the visitor center/souvenir shop across the street; but, decided to take a walk about town. This side of the fjord has a hillside full of variegated houses, blue, red, yellow and green all interspersed. Commercial buildings often have murals pained on their sides. On this Thursday morning, the town is largely asleep; or, the locals are prudently remaining out of sight as their peaceful community is invaded by a tidal wave of cruisers. We check out a street sign on the corner and wonder, “Does every word in Greenlandic have a “Q” in it?” It sure seems so!

We walked up a street that grew gradually steeper; and, were happy to take respite on a bench in front of a bar that evidently opens at 10PM and closes at 3AM. Perhaps that is what passes as night time here. I did notice the previous evening out our stateroom window that there was still light in the night sky at 10:30PM when I went to bed. We reached a street that ran horizontally across the hill; and, opted to take it rather than the one which continued up an increasingly steeper grade. Below was the Rotterdam. We passed the post office, a hotel and a church. We found some cobblestone steps that meandered down the hill. We past a couple who was looking for “The Fountain”. To be honest, we didn’t even know that there was a fountain to be found; but, at least now we knew for what we were looking. We passed another couple who had donned camping style mosquito net hats, and we commented, “That was smart.” They agreed, “We read about the black bugs of Qaqortoq.” Since we’d been ashore we’d been constantly harassed by large persistent gnats. We understood now the comment when we stepped ashore welcoming us to the land of the black bugs.

Once we were down the steps, we chatted to another couple. I said, “Somebody told us that there is a fountain to see.” They pointed, “It’s right over there.” If we’d have taken the more level road to the left when we got off the tender, rather than the one to the right, we probably would have stumbled right into the fountain. They also pointed out a church, and that got Sharon’s attention. We went over to see the fountain and it was a nice park-like setting with plenty of benches. We sat and relaxed for a bit; when, Sharon said she was going to see the church. I decided to stay and enjoy the park. I may have something insensitive like, “If you’ve seen one church, you’ve seen them all.” Sharon wasn’t convinced, and she grabbed the camera and was off to see the church. I doubt that it was a Catholic Church because Greenland is something like 95% Protestant/Lutheran and less than 1% Catholic. She did take pictures and said that she enjoyed it, and also enjoyed the boulder filled neighboring stream and its very peaceful setting.

All along our walkabout, I’ve been spotting the many flag poles, and none of them flying a flag. One of my objectives was to start a collection of country flags that I see; but, this not flying flag trend may make that difficult. We stroll back to the tender, pass though security approaching the gangplank and Sharon asks, “Is that the flag that you are looking for?” And sure enough, attached to the top of the checkpoint booth that we’d just passed through are two Greenlandic flags on either side. I prepare the camera; but, all that I see is a limp red and white flag hanging straight down. I wait, and wait, and finally a gust of wind does unfurl the flag enough for me to click my picture.

Our room was not yet made up. Sharon headed to the Crow’s Nest with her tablet to do “Sharon Stuff”. She’s been agonizing on not getting started on her latest “Criminal Case” plus she has her “Luminosity” Daily Challenge to complete and some religious email readings to catch up on. I wrote some of the blog until the cabin stewards showed up; and, then I went to find Sharon upstairs. I checked for Sudoku in the Explorer’s Lounge; but, again the cupboard was bare.

We went to the Lido Deck and Sharon headed for the Dive-In and ordered a Burger and Fries. I opted for the Chorizo Lasagne and a “Design Your Own” spinach salad. It was back to the cabin for us; and, then Sharon decided to go see a movie at 2PM “Legend of 1900”. It was about a child musical protégé that had been found adrift as a child and grew up on a cruise ship never having set foot on land. She thought that it was so good that she didn’t bother to stay around to watch the end, and just had to come up to the Crow’s Nest for Team Trivia. She showed up fifteen minutes early; so, I guess she was afraid that we’d give her spot away. Fat chance on that: We seem to be needing all of the help that we can get.

Jim and Rose Marie were AWOL yesterday; but, today we have a full contingent, so there can be no excuses. Linda again passed out score sheets, scratch paper and sanitized pencils to avoid cross-contamination. The captain has noted that there are still some new cases showing up in the infirmary. Jim came up with the capitol of Australia from 1901 until 1927, suggesting “Melbourne.” I asked if he was our official Aussie teammate, and said that I would have to check. I said, “Aussie. Aussie. Aussie.” He immediately responded with the proper response, “Oi, Oi, Oi.” So, we got that one right. And when Linda asked, “In the nursery rhyme that starts, Monday’s Child is Full of Grace… What is Thursday’s Child?” Sharon immediately wrote down “Thursday’s child has far to go.” Score one for Sharon. Linda then challenged everyone with, “If you are ‘Lentiginous’, what are you?” She added that there are “Lentiginous” people in the room right now! Sharon thought she knew this one too, and from Linda’s “hint” it seemed reasonable: Left-handed. Alas, it is “Freckled”. Our team was split when it came to “King Edward VIII was king for how long before he abdicated: (a) Less than one year, (b) one to two years, or (c) More than two years. Our guessing wasn’t so good today, as the right answer was just under one year. Linda was really proud of her Bonus Question. “A popular wife-carrying competition takes place every year in Finland. What does the winner win?” Duncan came up with “A Viking Helmet” which seems reasonable on a cruise like this. I jokingly wrote down my answer “A Firkin of Beer”. I didn’t know how close my answer was. The winning answer was the wife’s weight in beer”! We got only 8 out of a possible 17 points, not even 50%. The winning team got 13 points.

Sharon was off to mass, and I was to meet her afterwards for dinner. I showed up and found a chair to wait by the Wajang Theatre. Little did I know that a “Below Decks” storyline was going to play out right in front of me. A housekeeping steward was busy vacuuming the floor with his portable vacuum backpack, when a Romanian (or nearby Eastern European) woman who was in customer service at one of the nearby boutiques continued talking to him, “…I’m so depressed. I don’t know what I can do…” Like any good hearted sympathetic male who’s been cooped up in a cruise ship way too long, he clicks off his vacuum, and comes over to listen further, asking, “What’s is it?” Her English is a distinctive alluring Eastern European accent using perfect grammar and syntax; but, his is a coarser broken English. “I miss my family. I haven’t talked to them since I got onboard.” He looks puzzled, “You use internet.” She complains, “It’s so expensive.” “I use internet. Talk my family.” “But ‘they’ want $40 (for something, unintelligible).” He assures her, “There other ways.” “I don’t have a computer.” “You use phone.” “Do you have internet?” she inquires. He nods proudly, and she continues, “Perhaps, we could share…?” That stopped him in his tracks, I don’t think he saw that one coming. At least he didn’t think that giving her his username and password was a good idea. “When do you get off?” she asks. “10”. “Me too, perhaps we could meet.” Okay, the direct approach didn’t work, I could see that Plan B was about to be deployed… at 10PM. Mass was over, and Sharon emerged from the Wajang Theatre. Sharon said there was a couple celebrating their 49th anniversary so Father Roman made them a red balloon heart then said it couldn’t be empty to blew up a blue balloon and twisted it into 2 love birds sitting in the heart.

For dinner I chose the Thai Beef and Pickled Papaya, followed by the Classic French Onion Soup with Short Rib. I didn’t think this soup was as good as I remembered on the Nieu Amsterdam. It tasted more like the “Everyday French Onion Soup”, which may be what they mean by “Classic”. The soup I remember was chock full of tasty meat. The first thing that popped into my mind with this broth was: “Where’s the Beef?” For my entrée I chose the Lamb Kabob and Chimichurri. It was good; but, the likely favorite selection from tonight’s menu was the Tenderloin of Beef Wellington. Everybody who had this at our table seemed to love it. Sharon chose the Oven Roasted Chicken. Evidently in Greenland Tres Leches Cake is flan! That is what one person at our table wound up with after looking forward to a milk-laden sweet white cake. Sharon chose well with her Chocolate Croquant Praline. She’d been worried about nuts; but, the chocolate mousse delighted her and she needn’t have worried about dealing with nuts. I had the Cheese Plate again which came with Gouda, two other cheeses and also with Blue Cheese (as it has every day that I’ve ordered this). On previous cruises I recall that Blue Cheese was seldom one of the choices.

We barely got one of two remaining seats together in our balcony section. Others were still available elsewhere 30 minutes early. All were gone by show time. The HAL Singers & Dancers performed “A La Mode”. After 15 minutes of songs Sharon looks at me saying, “I haven’t heard any of these songs before, Have you?” “I said no,” and then they started the next number and I changed my response to, “…but, I have heard this one before.” It was an ABBA tune SOS; which, happened to be the answer to a palindrome Trivia question a few days back. We recognized a couple more tunes; before, again there were more songs that we’d never heard.

Sharon wasn’t eager to listen to 1980’s music in the Piano Bar, so she tried the slots, and then returned to the cabin. The buffalo were not available tonight and the lobster machine is still not behaving for her. So she returned the cabin to catch up on some reading and post yesterday’s blog.

I got to open the Fun-21 Blackjack table again. The dealer was waiting for me, and began to shuffle the cards. By the time that he was ready to deal, others had flocked to the table and I suffered through the first half-hour of slow play and their endless banter that let everyone know that they’d really prefer to be at the Texas Hold’m table. A couple sits next to me. The lady had a distinctive strategy, don’t bust, and get lots of blackjacks. It was a strategy that seemed to be working quite well for her too. Her husband was doing okay, that is holding his own, by exchanging winning and losing with the dealer. After a questionable stand (She held Ace-Five against dealer’s Six) she saved the table. I guess she thought I liked the way she played. She extended her left hand to me, saying I’m Debbie, this is Al. I didn’t know if I was supposed to shake her left hand or kiss it… I gave her a fist bump… Al then was dealt 12 and the dealer held a six… doubled down! He saw some guy do it once. I’m thinking, “If you saw some guy jump off a bridge, you’d probably only see him do it once. Would that mean that you should do it too!” It didn’t work out for him and I hoped that he wouldn’t do that again. It was then that “The Creature” sat down. It was as if she was a walking billboard for the young, “Please Don’t Make These Mistakes, Because This Could Be Your Fate.” Her skin belied the fact that she’d spent too much time in the sun during her youth. She’d also spent way too much time in her youth in tattoo parlors, and likely every square inch of skin below her neck was crammed with ink. She’d spared her face that fate, but the nose ring was the final coup de grâce. She plopped a gob of chips and phone and folded up copy of “When & Where” on the table. The dealer asked for her cabin key. “Ahh,” she dismisses him, “it’s back in my room.” Then she blurts out her cabin number for all to hear. A furtive glance between dealer and pit-boss revealed that this is obvious faux pas. The pit-boss shakes his head and tells dealer to proceed without any stateroom input. Somebody told us that the only 4-digit rooms in HAL’s fleet are on the Rotterdam. The number she said put her in one of the Neptune Suites on the Navigation Deck. She buy’s in with a bit over $100 in chips which was soon gone in a few hands. She peels off another C-note, has a little action, and that is soon gone too… and then again. The pit-boss asks her “Did you have a good time today?” She scowls at him, “Nah, I’ve been waiting for HIM all day,” and jerks her head towards slots. HE’s been at that damn slot all day… everyday. Now I’m just waiting for HIM to have a heart attack!” Does this fall in the category of TMI; or, NOT. A few hands later the creature was gone, and so was Debbie. She had parlayed her $100 buy-in up to over $200 and then back down to $99.50. About 5 minutes later she did later toss the dealer one blue chip ($1). I noted, so now it’s $98!” The dealer added, “And fifty cents.” Al had started out a parlay, starting with the $6 minimum, then $10 and then increasing each hand that he won, and I noticed this as his bet had grown to more red chips than I could easily count. Along the way he’d gotten two blackjacks in a row, and a couple more double downs. He eventually lost his $50 bet, all in red chips, and had completed a nice little run. My troubles continued, and I couldn’t seem to win but a few hands in a row, and I was getting nary a blackjack. The dealer asked me, “Where’s your wife?” I said, probably at the piano bar; or, playing slots. “Oh, does she play slots?” I nodded, “Yes. She had some luck yesterday.” Then Al noted, “I haven’t seen you here this late. I’m usually here by myself.” I wasn’t sure if this was my cue to leave because I was intruding on HIS table, so I said, “Oh, my wife doesn’t usually let me out this late.” The dealer seamed amused. “You, see. I’ve left my phone back in the cabin and she can’t text me.” And then I think, “I’m probably going to really pay for this later.” I played another good shoe and was able to win back most of what I was down; and, I decided to call it a night. We lose another hour and have scenic cruising tomorrow… hopefully.

Sharon was already asleep when I returned just before midnight. At least she didn’t bite my head off when I came through the cabin door; but, I really should have had my phone with me. I think she’s just resigned to my losing all track of time when I get sucked into an interesting blackjack table.


27th July 2018

Wait a minute...
Sharon plays Criminal Case?!? So do I. We may have to become FB friends. Earlier today I did send an email to her at hopefully the correct address (I have several for her). We’re both enjoying your blog and look forward to cruising with you next summer.

Tot: 0.434s; Tpl: 0.022s; cc: 19; qc: 78; dbt: 0.0188s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb