Thursday, 30 June 2011

An Evening That Would Inspire Poets

Combine perfect weather with giant landscapes that stir the soul and cultural experiences that warm the heart and you will be left with a day that you will not soon forget.  Our day today could not have been better.
By 10:00 we had dropped anchor in Uummannaq and the first excursions boats picked up their passengers at the ship.  Soon as the excursion boats were away the Polar Cirkel boats started shuttling people to shore.  A group of people went off for a talk with a local hunter while others explored Uummannaq on their own.  At 12:00 a large group of epicureans met at the Uummannaq hotel to sample the Greenlandic cuisine.  Just a few of the items on the sumptious buffet were: reindeer, minke whale, narwhal, muskox, harp seal, smoked halibut, crow berries, blue berries, ammassat (capelin) and various salads.  M-m-m-m-m!!!!
At 1:30 a large group met at the landing site to go on a 5 km hike to the other side of the island.  There was a long line of blue jackets stretched across the rolling hills behind Uummannaq.  Our destination was Santa’s hut.  Greenlandic and Danish children believe that Santa Claus lives here in Uummannaq because of a television series that ran in Denmark in the “90’s.  When we arrived at Santa’s Hut we were surprised with some very welcome snacks and beverages – tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water (and even a shot of whisky in your beverage was available if you wished)!  The hotel staff had whisked everything around the island in the polar ?cirkel boats!  There was even a surprise visitor, hmmm... we were the visitors and were surprised that the owner of the hut was home!  Santa Claus showed up (he looked an awful lot like our chef).
By 16:00 all of the hikers were back and at 16:30 the last polar Cirkel left shore.  As we cruised towards Ukkusissat we encountered more and more ice.  It was incredibly beautiful under nearly clear blue skies.  The ice became so thick that we were forced to reduce speed in order to navigate safely.  We were scheduled to arrive in Ukkusissat at 19:30 but the heavy ice dictated our arrival time.  We dropped anchor at 20:00 and transferred many of the people from the village to the ship.  These aren’t strangers.  These are our friends.
In the Observation lounge the people from Ukkusissat entertained us with folk dances and songs by their choir. Some of the people were dressed in traditional clothing.  Anja Erdmann gave an expalnation of the work and materials involved in the clothes.
At approximately 21:00 it was our turn to visit the village.  Rasmus Lyberth is a folk music hero in Greenland and is well loved wherever he goes here.  Everyone in the village gathered around while Rasmus gave another stirring performance.

 At 23:00 the last polar Cirkel boat left shore.  We waved goodbye to our friends and turned our bow to the south.
Now as I finish writing the blog for today (yesterday) it is 00.30 and it is the type of evening that inspires poets.   Fram is surrounded by icebergs.  Thousands of them.  We are picking our way through a maze of ice on a slow, weaving, zig-zagging course.  The sun has dropped behind a large dark mountain on our starboard sun.  It hasn’t set.  It won’t set. The light is warm.  The sea is calm.  Each piece of ice is a new ephemeral work of art.  We are all so very lucky to be here, to see this, to have experienced a wonderful day like we did today.