Wednesday 29 September 2010

Skjoldungen or the cementery of shoes

What a day! When Anja in her morning announcement informed about an outside temperature of 8°C, everybody was reluctant to believe it (at least the expedition staff!). But yes – soon after we landed on shore, one thermal layer after the other came off and also the passengers were surprised with this almost tropical climate! Needless to say that everybody was delighted.

Skjoldungen was our morning destination and is the name of an abandoned settlement in the middle of nowhere. 1964, as part of a nationwide program to concentrate the Greenlandic population in a few central sites, all inhabitants were relocated. 
Today we find rotten houses, rotten barrels, a rotten mangle and…most impressive… different rotten shoes in all sizes, shapes and colours…everywhere.
A ghost “town” which makes us aware how long it takes to decompose human remains and for nature to take over again. Especially in this sensitive arctic environment, where everything is preserved for years or centuries. 
But besides the anthropogenic traces, something else caught our attention and enchanted all of us: the incredible colours of the vegetation. Bright red patches of birch and berry leaves intermingling with the yellow of the willows – what a beautiful scenery!

  Later in the day, these intense autumn colours were a perfect contrast to the dark mountains, the green sea and the white icebergs, making our circumnavigation of the island of Skjoldungen a very special experience. Lack of wind contributed to some fantastic reflections in the water and the dramatic peaks of up to 1900m, glaciers and a few narrow passages will be an unforgettable memory.