Thursday, 7 July 2011

A Slower Pace

Northern Fulmars Ukussisat 

Today was a very full day.  The morning started at a nice leisurely pace. You could even sleep in a little if you wished.   We arrived in Uummannaq at 09:30.  The first Polar Cirkel boats began taking people to shore at 10:00. If you didn't opt for one of the excursions you still had the options of exploring on your own or joining a large group of us for a hike across the island to Santa's Cabin at 13:30.  The weather continues to be excellent.  In fact it was perfect weather for hiking.  
Much to our surprise, there was coffee, tea, ice water, cookies and cakes waiting for us at Santa's cabin which was served to us by the Expedition Team.  It was a very welcome treat.  For those who didn't think they could make the hike back to the ship, there was an option of getting a ride in a Polar Cirkel boat.
Most of the hikers were back by 16:00.  By 16:30 everyone was back on the ship.  We heaved anchor and headed for our evening destination and the most northerly point of this voyage, Ukussisat.
Ukussisat is home for about 150 people. The largest town/city in Greenland is the capital city Nuuk with a population of about 15,000.  The hustle of the city is far away from Ukussisat.  
We are now about 550 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.    That is extremely cool. The speed of life is much slower this far north.  Much slower.  Literally.  Did you know that the speed freaks living at the equator are moving at 1,675 kph due to the rotational speed of the earth?  Ukussisat moves a lot slower.  The speed of life here is a mere 570 kph.  The turtles at the north pole are moving at 1 cm/24 hours.  (Originally all turtles came from the North Pole which is why they still move so slowly today). Of course we could add in the speed of the earth as it rotates around the sun but since that is constant everywhere on earth it doesn't figure into this equation.
We arrived in Ukussisat at 19:30 and brought about 40 people from the village to the ship.  At 20:00 we met in them in the Observation lounge where they entertained us with Greenlandic folk dancing and singing.
At 21:00 we jumped into the Polar Cirkel boats and visited the picturesque village.  Large cliffs soar vertically immediately behind the village providing a dramatic backdrop. The evening light was warm and beautiful. In the village we were free to go exploring.  By 23:00 we were all back on board the ship.
Those of us that return to Ukussisat on a regular basis felt a little sad.  It was our last time to see our friends here for another year.