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Published: October 20th 2018
Very small community.
"I am perfectly acquainted with the arctic, my knowledge having been acquired by thirty-three voyages to these regions, and by spending three winters there. I have become intimately associated with the Esquimaux and their habits and manners." William Penny 1809 - 1892
I am always surprised at how cosmopolitan Nuuk is! A city in Greenland complete with museums, malls, galleries, theatres and a brewery. The Greenlandic capital is built in a seemingly impossible fjord that twists and cuts its way inland to the ice sheet, a fjord system so complicated that map-makers must have nightmares. It’s quite astounding that there’s a functioning city in among the towering arctic peaks and wild coastline.
I am only beginning to understand Nuuk (and Greenland for that matter). I am sure I once thought of Greenland as a far away land inhabited by Eskimo living in igloos - a land that I’d never get to - perhaps? I remember as a child, wondering; How could it be Danish? How could it be covered in ice?
I am now aware that the Kalaallit (the Greenlandic Inuit) are a strong and proud people, and have a great relationship and some autonomy with the Kingdom of Denmark… It is indeed far flung and off the beaten track with an abundance of ice and jagged mountains, with a mesmerizing beauty and silence… And I did manage to get there, despite my earlier thoughts.
Northernmost village in northern Greenland
it ‘Kalaallit Nunaat’ , The Land of the Greenlanders’.
After leaving Canada with the M/S Ocean Adventurer, we journeyed the length of the west coast from Etah to Nuuk, saw some amazing scenes and chatted with remarkable people in wild villages.
Wild place… Kangerdlugsuaq Fjord, deep within Karrat Fjord. We were miles inside the fjord system - all around us were vertical sides charging to the clouds. For several hours we continued deeper and deeper until we saw a magical valley, backed by massive glaciers. We lowered Zodiacs and explored an unknown shore. Grave sites lined the beach ridge, fox traps, caches and remains of stone houses were scattered among the willows. This was once thriving with human activity.
Settlement… Siorapaluk at the northwestern edge of Greenland. This was raw Greenland! We were greeted at the beach by a boy with polar-bear pants and a girl with a drum. Walrus meat was drying on the decrepit dock. A carcass of a shark lay rotting on a tarp. Dogs were tied to a broken tractor. A man, covered in blood and carrying a gun, was pointing to a dead whale - I
Like a little fairytale town
smiled and checked it out… Behind town was a path leading to a pretty canyon - I hiked out and discovered more death. Bones and guts were everywhere… Amazing!
From the archives - A decade ago…
Theresa and I first stepped foot on Greenland almost 10 years ago. We saw our first musk-ox as we ventured to the ice sheet near Kangerlussuaq, and we stayed in a gargantuan concrete apartment block in Nuuk, which has since been demolished - too bad, as it was beautifully ugly.
We are polar explorers…
D (and T)
“Strange. There is always sadness on departure. It is as if one cannot after all bear to leave this bleak waste of ice, glaciers, cold and toil...” - Fridjof Nansen 1912
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