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Published: September 2nd 2007
First Glimpse of Greenland
Typical Greenland. Ice, meet Fjord
Greenland - anything but green, but a land of extremes to say the least. Word has it that back in the day when Denmark was trying to populate its new territory, they tried to convince settlers that this was a good place to settle, hence the lush sounding name. And as for Iceland, the inhabitants there already had the population they needed and so as to try and keep it for themselves, they chose a name that sounded harsh and uninviting. Apparently, it didn’t work out all that well for Denmark, today Greenland is home to only about 50000 inhabitants, with the majority widely spread out among small communities along the west coast. Greenland is a self governing territory of Denmark, which relies almost solely on an annual lump sum contribution from the Danish Government of about $600 million to support the people who live here.
A mix of both Greenlandic indigenous and Danish nationals, the official languages are Danish and Greenlandic (very similar to Inuit in Canada, they can sort of understand each other), but you can get by with English ok just like in Europe. It seems like everyone speaks three languages. The challenges faced here are very
From the Ice to the Sea
Looks like a scene out of Kluane National Park doesn't it??
similar to the ones faced in Canada’s arctic, but with a distinct European flair. Although Greenland is part of the North American Continent, it has almost no ties to it and relies on Europe for all its goods and services. As a result, you notice a few subtle differences when observing northern living, European style. For instance, all the houses are painted as brightly as possible in many different colours (as if to brighten up those dark winter days?). Another is that the cuisine here is distinctly European, with all sorts of interesting food and labels I have never seen before or can understand what they say (but they have kick ass cheese and beer!). And the last thing that maybe is not all so different is their love for booze...but yet rather different in a way because drinking is embraced here as being totally socially acceptable, in true European fashion.
Although booze is similarly priced as in Canada, Greenland is not affordable place to live, much like Canada’s High Actic so I have been told. Because of the distance everything has to travel to get from Europe to the west side of Greenland, prices here are rather outrageous.
Like 4-5 bucks for a bottle of pop? And fresh produce? Better to just forget it because a banana here costs 8 bucks a kilo and a fresh cucumber I was looking at in Nuuk, the capital cost $12 ouch! A word of advice for potential visitors who may have Greenland on their list, do some homework into prices, because this place is not cheap. But when someone else is footing the biil, there is no place quite like it!
The indigenous Greenlandic people who have inhabited Greenland since forever are almost identical to the Inuit people. They live in modern fashion but still rely upon the land for much of their sustenance. There are no quotas or regulations in the hunting and fishing industries here so they pretty much take as much as they can. A guy I work with says his uncle is a caribou hunter and last year he shot 250 animals! How’s that for rape and pillage of a resource. But mind you I am sure that every part of every animal was well used for something or another. Our camp is a melting pot of nations, from Peru and Brazil in S.A., to Denmark
Definately the way to see Greenland's full potential.
and Sweden of the EU and of course a handful of Canadians to represent NA. But it’s the local guys that the company has hired as extra hands that are the most interesting for sure! In a latenight discussion one rainy night in the dry tent, I got an amazing story from this young guy named Mike who helps out on the drills occasionally. He was telling me that when he was 16, he had to walk to a village about 35 km away and didn’t leave until around 5pm, just as it was growing dark. While walking through a steep valley he came upon a two large rocks and saw a man standing there between them. As it was dusk, he couldn’t make out the figure so he continued closer to get a better look to see who it was. When he approached, he realized that this was no ordinary man. It was a wild man, described as wearing nothing but furs, with matted hair/beard down to his waist that was entwined with some type of thorny plant that he used to carry a variety of different things such as food. Apparently the two froze and just stared at
Map of Greenland
for all you no geographic types who have no idea what Greenland actually looks like...
each other for like 5 minutes, before Mike turned and ran for his life up the sideslope of the valley around the Wildman and all the way to the village without stopping. He says he never told anyone from his village because they probably would have just laughed at him and told him he was making it up. How’s that for a bedtime story, just like Sasquatch of North America! Crazy to believe that a hermit/wildman could possibly be able to survive in an environment like this with no outside influences...
Greenland is the world’s largest island (Australia counts as a continent) It is blanketed by an massive ice sheet that is up to 3km thick in the middle covering 90% of the landmass. This ice field gives way to deep fjords and barren, rugged mountainous terrain rings the coast line. Interspersed here are thousands of lakes and rivers of varying degrees of colour, from milky brown, to vivid green. The weather here is all over the place, from t-shirt and sunny one day to downright miserable the next. It is strange here where we’re working, everyday the wind blows north in the morning, then by the afternoon it
A crystal clear stream running into a very cloudy ocean fjord.
turns 180 degrees and blows due south, everyday. Strange, apparently is has something to do with conflicting temperature inversions with the ocean fighting the huge ice sheet.
Flying around Greenland is absolutely breathtaking, as the contrast from the white ice to deep blue ocean is amazing. See for yourself in the pictures. Also check out the little video I have posted (top left by my profile picture). It’s got some pretty amazing iceberg footage! Most of the photos were taken on my journey on the way to the camp I am in. Enjoy!
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