Saturday 28 August 2010

The Children of Kullorsuaq

People have a tendency of giving names to prominent landmarks. And so this village bears the name of the steep column of rock that miraculously survived the millions of years of erosion - The Devil's Thumb. Apart from the name there is not much to feel of Lucifers presence, on the contrary: After the introductional little welcome concert by the locals on board, dozens of children are hopping up and down on the landing site, eager to meet us, hold our hands, jump on our backs, tickle us. It is a waist-high wall of little exited faces that we have to gently permeate before we get to the village. We do not come unexpected - all are on their feet, have set up tables with coffee and cake and things they hope to sell. But next to the usual assortments of handicraft you see objects that clearly indicate that we are far from the common tourist route, next to large amounts of narwhale penis bones we find bags of freshly extracted seal claws and polar bear teeth. This is a hunters settlement, and no mistake. All over the place you find kayaks, tied-up dogs, sleds, hunting tools and remains of dead animals. Don't let the warm welcome fool you - these folks do not supply themselves from the supermarket round the corner, they use weapons. They are tough, weather-hardened and used to a dangerous life.
But no, you wouldn't think that today, everybody is so cheerful, so welcoming, so friendly. You cannot help but smile. Of course the traces of contrast between old life and modern world are obvious like in Kraulshavn, the "modern" cemetery with its white fence sticks out like a foreign object next to the old stoneheaps, garbage issues are also not to be resolved any time soon, and to see a mobile phone used from a traditional kayak is a strikingly strange sight.
We get invited for a singing in the church, painted in friendly blue and white. It's psalter, pure christian contents, only in Kalallissut, greenlandic language. Paulus, "Paalu" in his country, is the local priest, the catechist of hunters. It is a place so full of contrast! Young girls texting messages on their phones while their fathers are demonstrating their Kayak hunting skills, TV antennas next to the seal skins that are pinned up for drying.
Finally the sunset reveals the most stunning of all colors on the opposite side of the bay, where the slopes are suddenly gleaming red, with bluewhite ice swimming in front of them.
But - again - what remains longest is the unadulterated happiness of the many children who are growing into this world of contrast with a big smile.