Sunday, March 25, 2012

I know you are wondering about the state of our cargo boxes (last seen toppling of a fork lift while being loaded into a cargo bay). Well so are we. Unfortunately we will not know until we get into
Qaanaaq. Instead on Friday, the 23rd we took the plane to Ilulissat and spent the afternoon there. 

Ilulissat is one of the two biggest towns in Greenland. We were just transiting through so I thought I would simply give you all a few impressions of what we saw and heard. 
Fisherman Coming Home

Looking out from the hotel we saw an amazing view of the fjord with icebergs grounded in the middle. There was a somewhat open channel leading out into the fjord and to our surprise we saw a bunch of small fishing boats vending their way back after what had to be a hard and cold day's work. 

Walking out to downtown I was astounded to the large amount of people walking up and down the main street. School had  just let out and all the teenagers were slowly making their way home, a couple in really thin jackets (one guy in just a thick flannel shirt!) in -15C. 
The little kids making their way through the streets had made every little snow pile into a sledding hill. 

Some of the signs on the street were interesting as well. 
Santa's Sleigh

A restaurant was advertising hval gholash (Whale Goulash) although we ate thai at the Inuit cafe.

The Disko Whale Zafari for a mere $699 offered, and I quote:
"Discover: Giant Icebers ath the outer scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord - UNESCO-site,
the Spectacular Vulcanic Disko coastline, and the Unique experience of the Majesty of the Sea - 
the Whale"

with a note on the bottom
"Note: We have no contract with the Whales so - no guarantee."

And then there were the dogs. In the evening there was a constant low volume howling of the huskies that live outside a number of the homes. In a town of 4500 people there are roughly 3500 dogs. Perhaps nowhere are the cultural effects of global warming being felt as they are here in Greenland. The dog sledge has for centuries provided an efficient and reliable means of transport here. But with warming temperatures rising at twice the rate in the Arctic as compared to most parts of the world, climate changes in the area have led to rising temperatures, more wind and less snow. The areas of sea ice have decreased and the ice has become thinner. As opposed to some far off possible risk the dangers of climate change wreaking havoc in a culture are very real for the Greenlandic people. 

Saturday morning we were up early for the flight to Uppernavik and then to Qaanaaq. Right outside Uppernavik is the spot where Santa parks his sleigh in the off-season. 

We are psyched to be in Qaanaaq and to get moving on our science.

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