Sunday, 12 September 2010

Having learnt about Greenland

After a pretty shaky night we reach Isafjördur, the village?city?town? Difficult to say, it's like the scale of things has changed during the crossing. Although the place doesn't seem large on first glance it is certainly bigger than everything we have seen in Greenland, well, maybe except Nuuk. And there are more differences. We see trees, flowers, lush meadows with sheep and horses. Smells are in the mild morning air, of plants and herbs, of fish and sea. The houses are modern and luxurious, with carports and swimming pools, big panaroma windows. The people seem to be very well off, but here you have no clue what they do for a living. No dogsleds, not many fishing vessels, no hunting gear. They must earn their living somewhere else. And this tells us the ultimate difference: The roads are leading to other places…! You find street signs to Akureyri and Reykjavik, cities far away. Many a Greenlander would only dream to get into a car and actually drive to a different town! And suddenly a last piece falls into place, explaining why it takes so much longer to change things in Greenland than it takes somewhere else: mobility! Imagine you find a highschool, a big library, a tool shop, supplies, a choice of pubs, jobs, extensive medical care - only one hour away. What a difference a road makes!
Of course these are thought that spring to the mind of the traveler who has come from the big, harsh, wild and beautiful island in the northwest. For those who come from other, more comfortable places Isafjördur presents its own past in a very gentle way: For example beautiful whaling and fishing museum, set in a beautiful old building near the harbour and sporting in a different wing an amazing collection of precious harmonicas and bandoneons. A little further out of town you get an introduction in Icelands fishing history by people dressed up in original gear. Or you can just amble through town, go for hand-knitted Icelandic sweaters or mittens, T-shirts that tell you how to pronounce Eyafjallajökull, or Viking figurines. Don't forget to take a look at the surroundings, steep volcanic cliffs all around, telling tales about Icelands fiery past.
Heavy rain sets in after lunchtime, and so everybody seeks out shelter on FRAM, just before we cast lines for the last time on this trip.