Garden Day

Today was a Greenlandic holiday, Whit Monday. We did another sit-down breakfast, except this time without Aviaja because she spent the night at a friend’s house.  The meal was very similar to yesterday’s breakfast (meats, cheese, bread, butter, jam, coffee, tea) except instead of fresh fruit, we had smoothie.

Since everyone was off work, it was decided that today would be “Piloq 6 Garden Day”.  Piloq is the name of the street my host family lives on, and 6 is the number of the building they live in.  “Piloq” is Greenlandic for “leaf,” and all of the streets in Qinngorput are named after vegetation like mushroom (“Pupik”) and carrot (cannot remember the Greenlandic word).  Unfortunately, the vegetation for which the streets are named does not grow along the streets!

Here are some pictures from around the Qinngorput neighborhood. My host family lives at the base of a mountain called Stor Malene – it is part of a chain of Malenes, I believe. Anyways, it has a very large presence in Qinngorput!

This is the view from my bedroom window 🙂

Before I describe “Garden Day,” it is important to explain the home-ownership system in Qinngorput.  The subdivision is made up of many buildings of all different shapes and sizes according to the location of the particular plot of land with reference to the water. No building can ever be built so tall that it hinders the view of the buildings behind it. Piloq 6 is five stories tall. The first floor is only for storage units, and then the second, third, fourth, and fifth floors each have 2 apartments.  People that live in the building, such as my host family, own a fraction of the building and have a right to live in the building/their flat, but this is not to be confused with owning their flat. Nobody owns his own flat; he only owns a portion of the building.  Qinngorput is a new development, only about six years old (and it continues to be built), so my host family and the others that live in Piloq 6 were the first to live there; they took part in designing and constructing the building. Actually, the eight families had to all sign a lease together before they could begin construction. Another interesting aspect is that if someone were to move out and needed to find somebody to move in and replace them, nobody could move in unless the entire building approved. It is a very communal system.

Therefore, Piloq 6 is a rather tight-knit “circle of trust,” and we spent the entire afternoon of “Garden Day” together outside. Essentially, the purpose of Garden Day was to communally clean up the area and then to socialize and have fun! We started around 1300 by picking up trash on the ground around the building. Then, Ulrik began digging a sizeable hole in the ground to be used as a fire pit, pictured below. While he did the difficult work of digging a hole in the hard, rocky ground, Pia, others, and I looked around for good rocks to line the pit. The final step was to roll big, heavy rocks toward the pit for seating. This step took teamwork! The people that I met were Katja & Angutivik and their baby Smilla, Ulla & her husband (whose name I cannot remember) and their toddler Lille (they actually do not currently live in Piloq 6 but they used to before they got their own flat; they lived briefly with the parents of Ulla’s husband). These were the youngest families (in their early 30’s), and I talked a lot with them (in English). Actually, Ulla asked how old I was, and she was happy to find out that, for once, she was older than someone with whom she socialized! She is from Sisimiut, and she was telling me about the town and what there is to do there, as well as about the other towns and settlements and what activities they are best for. Katja spent a little bit of time working on the greenhouse – planting herbs like basil. I also met some other couples named Carla & Karl (Karl only arrived in the evening as he was out on the water hunting all day) and their dachshund Natasja. There was also Magrethe and Jens (Ulla’s in-laws).

The focus of the day was christening the fire pit by baking bread on it (marshmallow-style) and grilling meats. Pia made dough and Aviaja and her friend found dowel-like reeds on which to “skewer” the bread. This is how we baked bread: we took a handful of dough and rolled it between our hands to make a long, thin, snake-like piece. Then, we took the reed and pressed the dough over the one end to seal it and coiled the dough around and around the skewer and pinched it together at the bottom. Then, very much like Americans do with marshmallows to make s’mores on camping trips, we held the skewer over the flame and hot coals so the dough could heat up and bake, pictured below. Once there is good color and a crisp outside on the dough, it is ready to eat! It ends up looking a lot like a corndog! You just have to shimmy the reed free from the bread, leaving a tubular chamber inside the bread – perfect for squeezing ketchup, remoulade, or marmalade into!

By this time it was getting a little chilly outside, even by the fire pit, so we moved to another area that was still outside, but under the overhang of a balcony so it was shielded from the wind. Ulrik brought his small grill downstairs from the balcony, as did Jens, I believe. Families, one by one, brought out plates of seasoned meats, trays of coffee, tea, and juice, and side dishes. When all was said and done, we feasted upon pork chop, reindeer, musk ox, onion/beef/mini hot dog/tomato skewers, “egen avl” garlic bread by Magrethe (pronounced “ine owl” and means homemade), coleslaw, rosemary potatoes, and biscotti.

I was glad to meet more people from Piloq 6, and people like Ulla and Katja made it very easy to fit in!

Tomorrow is our first day of work at Visit Greenland, from 8-16. I’m hoping afterward to get around the town on foot and take some pictures!

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Kaffemik Manu

(From Sunday, May 27, 2012)

Today was a wonderful first day – very social! Started out by waking up to the delicious smell of my first breakfast in Greenland!  We all sat down together at the table, which I will gladly get used to happening daily. Though I imagine in the weekday, the spread will not be quite so extensive! We feasted on scrambled eggs, mixed fruit salad, bread & butter, pate, meat, cheese, marmalade, and cinnamon rolls. And coffeeee 🙂

If all the blinds are shut, it could be very easy to think I was in Washington, D.C. with all the modern furnishings, comfort foods, and abundance of Apple products 🙂 BUT – the blinds are open always and all I have to do is look up out any of the windows to see that clearly I am not in Washington, D.C. but rather am in a majestic wonderland.  In one direction, I have panoramic views of Nuuk Fjord, with snow-capped hills along the horizon.  In the other direction, I have Lille Malene and Store Malene, two hills/mountains I want to reach the top of at some point!  So yeah, not in Washington, D.C. 🙂

Around 1400, my host family took me on a driving tour of Nuuk.  We started at the far southwest end of Qinngorput where new flats are being built to house the people who will be relocated from downtown when the old Bloks are leveled in order to be rebuilt.  We went all around Qinngorput, past the other residential area called Nuussuaq, to the industrial/harbor area, downtown past the Greenland Tourism & Business Council office on Has Egedesvej, around the new University area, around the airport, and then back to Qinngorput for Kaffemik.

This is a picture of the Bloks, old housing right in the center of town.

This is one of the many cemeteries. A lot of the older ones have filled up, so they have to move to a new space. This one is on the west side of town near the old University building and the Moravian Monk Ruins.

I was very fortunate to experience Kaffemik on my first day! Kaffemik is one of the most important and central aspects to Greenlandic culture (read more here)! It is essentially a weekend party one holds at his/her own home to celebrate a birthday, a wedding, a confirmation, going away on holiday for a few weeks, returning from holiday, etc. People find many reasons to host Kaffemik! The hosts provide all the food and drink, so it is somewhat of an undertaking to host, especially when there are many friends and family in attendance.  This is a tradition with deep Greenlandic roots because the family wants to show that they have an abundance of food; it is a status symbol.  Depending on how many kids one has and how often they want to host friends, people could host Kaffemik just a couple times a year or as frequently as every month or so.

Hosts invite many people to their Kaffemik, but everyone does not come all at once.  It is a very casual, relaxing, and fluid sort of event.  People come and go as they please, and the hosts always have plenty of food and drink ready for newcomers.  Traditionally, the Greenlanders spend only a little bit of time at each Kaffemik, perhaps a couple cups of coffee’s worth, and then go about their way.  I am told the Danish like to spend a lot more time at Kaffemik, though! If you have been invited to Kaffemik but wish to do another activity that day, it is not rude to decline. It is common practice, however, that guests bring a small gift for the host or the person of honor.

Today, Kaffemik was just up the street in Qinngorput at the home of Katrine and Thomas in honor of the 11th birthday of their son, Manu.  This couple is one of my host family’s very good friends; they own a boat together and often go on sailing and hunting trips together. There must have been fifteen or more adults there and who knows how many children – they were all in the back bedrooms playing and having a good time!  There was main course food in the kitchen, beer and wine on the counter, and all sorts of sweets, breads & butter, and coffee & tea on the tables.  Two eating tables were set up, picnic-style, in addition to standard living room furniture, and people were seated all about.  When we sat down, Katrine came over with a set of clean dishes – a coffee cup and saucer, a spoon, and a plate. Everyone just walks around and helps himself to whatever he wants.  I started with tea and some raisin bread & butter but throughout the afternoon had sweets like cookies and strawberry tart.  Thomas was very kind and asked me if I had tried the musk ox yet.  When I said no, he directed me toward the kitchen to try some… so I did! It was very good!  He said it was meat from an ox he had killed last year, and oddly enough, later that same evening my host family and I looked at pictures from that very hunting trip! I met many people at Kaffemik – Katrine and Thomas, Jakob and Charlotte, Pia, and Sussi & Peter. Most everyone knows English, but they don’t speak it unless they are talking directly to me, which was more or less quick conversation.  Pia was helpful, though; whenever she thought about it, she would quickly tell me the gist of the conversation. I don’t mind, though; I am enjoying just being immersed in the language. A personal goal is to be able to speak it myself by the time I leave!

We left Kaffemik about 1700 and I took the opportunity to write a bit about the afternoon before going to Sushi dinner with Anne Mette and Sharon at 1900.

Anne Mette lives just down the street in Qinngorput also, so she picked me up and then picked Sharon up on her way into town. We did another short driving tour (which was nice to reinforce what I thought I had remembered from earlier) and also did a short tour of inside the Visit Greenland office.  I will be on the bottom level and Sharon will be on the top level.  Then we went for Sushi dinner at, oddly enough, the only sushi restaurant in town! We had a couple pots of tea, miso soup, and lots of sushi – salmon, shrimp, and halibut!

When I got back from dinner, my host family had two friends over, Katrine and Hans, whom they say are some of their closest friends. Katrine is from Ummannaq (a town in North Greenland that means “Heart-shaped”) and was very friendly; she was also very willing to talk to me in English, more so than anyone I have met so far! We looked at a few commercial videos of Greenland and then looked at a ton of Ulrik’s photos.

All in all, it was quite a social day – from family breakfast, to Kaffemik Manu, to dinner with Visit Greenland coworkers, to an evening in with Katrine and Hans… I am beginning to see that my host family is very social, and I am loving it because it means that I will probably get to meet many more people than I would have ever met living alone in a flat downtown or in Nuussuaq! I think I’m going to make it just fine in Nuuk!

Velkommen til Grønland!

(From Saturday, May 26, 2012)

We got to Keflavik International Airport two hours ahead of time, which was about an hour and half too early! Everyone was in the Icelandair check-in line; Sharon and I were the only two people headed on Air Greenland it seemed! Our bags passed the weight limit (yay!), security was pretty easy, and everything was going great… until Sharon looked at her boarding pass a little more closely and realized that it did not have her name on it but the name Travis Richards, I think it was! Uh oh! I guess this is not a great testament to the fastidiousness of either the girl at the check-in desk or the security guard! We went to the customer service desk, and the attendant said everything would be fine and not to worry. Ok…

After some light airport food and a quick snag of wi-fi, we got to our gate (one of only 25) and boarded our plane called Qarsoq, a Dash-8, one of the newer planes in the Air Greenland fleet. A quick perusal of Suluk, the in-flight magazine, taught me that Air Greenland recently started streamlining its fleet from 12 different aircraft down to 7. Also, the Dash-8’s will hopefully soon replace the Dash 7’s because they have better fuel economy and can go faster and farther and fly higher. This makes them ideal for international flights between Iceland and Greenland rather than just domestic flights. Their seat capacity is a bit smaller than the Dash-7, but they can still land on a short runway of only 800 meters (half a mile) like other STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) planes can.

The flight from Reykjavik to Nuuk was scheduled to be four hours or so, but it was split up almost halfway with a quick stop in Kulusuk (East Greenland). There were 13 people on our flight from Reykjavik to Kulusuk (out of a total of 37 possible). Our flight attendant was very nice – she broadcasted announcements in Greenlandic, then Danish, and finally in English. I was quite surprised by how much food and drink we were served; I was thinking there would be no service at all! Once we got to cruising altitude, she handed out beverages, 6” sub sandwiches (smoked lamb), fruit, chocolate wafer bars, and mints. In Kulusuk, some passengers got out, and we picked up others, so our flight was completely full between Kulusuk and Nuuk. Evidently the weather was bad going westward and there was a headwind, so what was supposed to be a two hour flight ended up being closer to three. We arrived in Nuuk at 20, an hour late.

Anne Mette, who originally recruited us from Visit Greenland, and my host family, (Pia, Ulrik, and Aviaja) met us at the airport with open arms and big hugs! It took all of three minutes to get our bags off the conveyer belt and off we went! Anne Mette gave Sharon and I each a “welcome basket” with some staple groceries, and said she would be in touch so we could meet up for dinner tomorrow.

Pia was taking Ulrik to a 50th birthday party downtown, so we got to take a short driving tour around the city. Then we went home to Qinngorput. Pia had some quiches ready to go in the oven (one shrimp, one spinach), so while that was heating, Aviaja and I sat at the kitchen table and immediately started working on a dictionary for me! We started with some basic words like “friend(s)” (kammak/kammaka in Greenlandic, and ven/venner in Danish).

Aviaja also gave me a tour of the flat. It is very nice! We had a long discussion about the correct metric conversions, but we finally came to the conclusion that the flat is 1,125 square feet! There are three bedrooms and one common bath. The living space is very open concept, which makes the place feel very large! There are windows all around, which is wonderful because the fjord and mountains are visible at all times and there is so much light coming in.  In addition to the living and breathing artwork through the windows, there are lots of beautiful photographs on the walls as Ulrik is a professional photographer. Everything is very modern and stylish – light hardwood floors, black and red leather, red accents, and a stuffed polar bear!

They have a pet dog, Kasik, which makes me very happy as I am missing my animals (two dogs and one cat) so much! Kasik is extremely friendly and gets very excited when people return home. He grabs the blanket from his dog bed and shakes it all about; and he skids and slides all across the hardwood floor! I tell him he needs to invest in some non-stick sneakers! I think he must know that I am an avid dog-lover because he often comes to me to be pet and has taken to curling up on the floor in my room.

My room is very nice – there is a window that looks directly onto the water, and my bed is super cozy! They also set up a small desk for me, and the closet has tons of shelves and room to hang things. The cutest part about the desk was that Aviaja made a sign for me that said “Welcome to Nuuk, Sarah!”

I am very happy to have Pia, Ulrik, Aviaja, and Kasik as my host family. They are so nice, and their design and lifestyle makes the transition from American life to Greenlandic life very simple!

Iceland: Day 3 (Church Tower)

(From Saturday, May 26, 2012)

Despite looking forward to another delicious Icelandic breakflast of Skyr and granola, Sharon and I could not pull ourselves out of bed until 11! Checkout was at 12, so we quickly got our things together and vacated our room.  As with check-in, the front desk attendant graciously allowed us to keep our bags behind the desk so that we could explore the City Center without having to haul cumbersome luggage.

We wanted to explore the large church at the top of the hill (according to GoogleMaps there is an ice rink there, too?) so we looked for a café along the way.  We found one on Bankastræti right around the corner from our hotel, so we went there. It was only after ordering and sitting down that we discovered there was an overwhelming Christian theme about the place! Nevertheless, it was a warm atmosphere with Mumford & Sons playing, and the food was good, even though it did take a very long time for our food to arrive.

After breakfast, we strolled up Skólavörthustígur to the church. We paid 500 ISK (about $4 USD) to ride up the elevator to the eighth floor for a panoramic view of the city. Then we walked up one more floor to compare the views! I would have liked to have climbed the stairs from the ground floor, but the doors to the stairwells were locked. After a number of North, South, East, and West photos, we went back down the elevator and got back to our hotel with not a moment to spare! We picked up our luggage, boarded a Reykjavik Excursions FlyBus+ and headed out to the Keflavik International Airport.

Iceland: Day 2 (Golden Circle Tour)

(From Friday, May 25, 2012)

Sharon and I started off the day with a nice breakfast provided by CenterHotel Klöpp.  I had flatbread with Icelandic butter, flatbread with different jams (orange and strawberry), melon, and of course, Icelandic Skyr (thick, tart yogurt) with granola. Delicious!

We had signed up for a Reykjavik Excursions tour called the Golden Circle, and the tour company picked us up right at our front door in a small mini coach. It was really quite advantageous to use the tour company because they not only provided the transportation to many sites that we never would have gotten to but also had free wi-fi on the coaches. So essentially, I could email with people back and forth all day, which was wonderful given that it was just my first hours and days away from my boyfriend, friends, and family!

The tour lasted from 830 until 1830 and we went all throughout the South Iceland region. Our guide was named Höskulder but told us we could call him “Hershey”, even though names ending in the “y” sound are more feminine. He narrated the bus ride the entire time and focused heavily on informing us about the geologic history and background of the places we passed and visited. I very much liked this aspect!

Our first stop was in Hvergardi for a bathroom break at this earthquake museum – it was a little contrived, but there were informative signs all about. The interesting part about this town was that it is technically at the bottom of the ocean! The mountain/volcano peaks that can be seen there used to be covered with underwater glaciers, so the lowest part of the valley served as the ocean floor.

Our second stop was in Hrunamannahreppur where we saw this old church – I guess I took a catnap in the bus when Höskulder was telling the meaning of this church because I don’t remember the story behind it!

Our third stop was Gullfoss, this amazingly powerful glacial waterfall! We had about forty minutes here to walk right up to the edge of the waterfall practically.  There was so much mist spraying back from the water that we were soaked even standing back a bit from the edge. I think on our way back to the bus people that were just arriving to the pathway saw our soaked jackets and turned around to go back to the bus!

Our fourth stop was Geysir to see the, well, geysers.  There was only one that erupted frequently, about every 6-8 minutes; it was called Strokkur. There were a couple of other geysirs (Geysir, Litli Geysir, and Two Colors geysir). We spent some time walking around the geysir fields taking photos, and then we went across the street to Hotel Geysir for lunch and to buy souvenirs if we wished. For lunch, I had Samloka m/ Hangikjöti og Baunasalati (Smoked Lamb with Bean Salad). It was good, but the smoked lamb definitely had a strong aftertaste!

After lunch, we drove through the town of Laugarvatn where three men got off the bus in order to go to the Fontana hot spring spa close by. We could see it from the bus, and it was much smaller than the Blue Lagoon Spa but still looked nice and relaxing and hot!

The final stop on our Golden Circle Tour was Thingvellir National Park. It was very beautiful, right on Thingvellirvatn Lake, the largest natural lake in Iceland. This area was rich in geological history as well. There is a large rift valley that can be viewed; it is formed because of the sea-spreading of two tectonic plates (North American and Eurasia) that Iceland spans. It should be noted, though, that the boundary between the two plates is not where the rift occurs, as most people assume. The rift happens because of weakness beneath the plate as it pulls apart – the ground sinks down, as there is not much support for the land above.

Some other things Höskulder taught us while en route:

  • 80% of the country’s energy is provided geothermally; the only fossil fuel used is for transportation
  • Lava field craters are formed when steam releases from the ground causing the ground to bulge upward; evidently the only other place in the universe where this found is on Mars. The lava fields are some 9000 years old, and the youngest are only 1000 years old, called the “Christianity Lava Field”.
  • Some parts of Iceland are 60 million years old.
  • January is the coldest month (averaging 30 degrees Fahrenheit) and July is the warmest month (averaging 58 degrees Fahrenheit). Anything above 68 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a heat wave, and everything closes down so that the residents can enjoy the weather!
  • In 1907, the country was reforested with pine from Alaska and Siberia. Birch trees are native, but they are small and shrub-like, and they are also bent rather than straight. There was an ice age that lasted until about 40 years ago, which stunted tree growth. Humans were cutting down trees faster than they were growing, which put a strain on the land. That is why they now have the protected areas, which are called “The Forest of the Icelandic People”.
  • Eyjafyallajökull erupted two years ago and seemed awful, but it was nothing compared to the eruption of 1700’s that opened a fissure almost 15 miles long!
  • There are no reptiles in Iceland, and very few insects (none of which is a mosquito or tick). Only 84 species of birds live in Iceland, and most are seabirds like the Arctic Turn which flies annually between Antarctica and Iceland.

When we returned to town, we were, again, in search of dinner and this time chose Kaffe Loki on Lokastígur because it advertised traditional Iceland food.  My travel mate and I ordered two menu items – the Braveheart and Dinner II – to share.  Both came with flatbread & butter, fermented shark, and dried fish & butter. The Braveheart added a shot of “Black Death”, a high alcohol-content liquor. I had seen Anthony Bourdain try it on his Travel Channel show, No Reservations, so I, of course, had to follow in his footsteps and try it as well! The Dinner II added flatbread with mashed fish (extremely savory and delicious!), flatbread with butter and smoked lamb, and flatbread with salmon and cottage cheese. Everything was delicious – we devoured every bite! I was sorry that I never got a chance to try the Icelandic meat soup, but I know just the place to get it when I pass back through at the end of September.

The last thing we did before bed was strategically repack our luggage. The luggage regulations to fly Icelandair are much more forgiving than those of Air Greenland. We managed to get everything down to one checked bag per person (weighing 20 kilos), one carry-on bag each (which they call hand luggage, and could be 8 kilos I think), and one personal bag each like a purse or computer bag. Fortunately, I had meticulously weighed my bags before departing Washington, D.C. so I did not have any anxiety about paying exorbitant “overweight luggage” fees!

Iceland: Day 1 (Blue Lagoon; Kaffi Solón)

I landed in Keflavik, Iceland around 07:00 this morning, Thursday May 24, 2012. I met up with my fellow Visit Greenland intern, Sharon, in the customs line, and together we got through the airport fairly quickly. Fortunately, we had already made transportation reservations to get us from the Keflavik International Airport to our hotel in the city center of Reykjavik, which was about a 40 minute drive, so we quickly got our bags loaded onto the FlyBus+ and were on our way. The road between the airport and the city center is flanked on either side by volcanic lava fields. It’s basically this extremely dark rocky terrain covered by a thin layer of moss.

 

We got to our hotel many hours before check-in, but the front desk attendant was nice enough to let us store our bags behind the front desk in the meantime. So we dropped our bags off and went in search of food because we were starving!! Actually, the first stop was the bank so that I could convert USD to ISK.  Then, we popped into Cafe Paris and got a light breakfast of Croque Monsieur and a Ham and Cheese Omelet. With about four more hours to kill, we decided to go on a walking tour of Reykjavik. We were not exactly sure where we were going, but we definitely figured out very quickly that Reykjavik is quite a hilly city! We had lost our map so it just felt like we kept going uphill and downhill, uphill and downhill. We finally decided to make a quick stop into City Hall to grab a map and take cover from the rain! City Hall is quite architecturally unique and sits right on the edge of Tjörnin Lake with lots of ducks, seagulls, etc. Inside City Hall is this massive, larger than life topographic rendition of Iceland. I cannot even begin to imagine how many days, months, even years it took to construct this layer by layer!

At this point, we have our bearings back and are just wanting to get back to our hotel because it is raining, and when I say raining, I mean it’s misting but in a very heavy way! We make it back to our hotel about 1215 and decide that we don’t want to wait to check-in anymore – we want to use our afternoon wisely and go to the Blue Lagoon, a natural spa whose main attraction is geothermal hot springs. We look up tickets online and see that a bus is leaving in 30 minutes from the terminal that is 15 minutes away. So Sharon and I look at each other, take about five minutes to grab our bags and hightail it to the Reykjavik Excursions bus terminal!

The Blue Lagoon Spa was amazing! We spent many hours there soaking in the hot springs, lathering silica mud onto our faces, and popping into the sauna and steam baths. The spa offered massages and various body treatments, but just soaking in the water was treatment enough for us!

After the spa, we spent a good deal of time deciding where to eat for dinner. We settled on  Kaffe Solon on Ingólfsstræti, and we were not disappointed! The ambience was great and the food was amazing! I believe Sharon ordered a tagliatelle pasta, and I order the Catch of the Day (Thorskur, I think it was called) – Tempura Villisvepparisotto m/ tomatpesto og parmaskinku – and paired it with an Egils Gull beer! Mmmmmmmm!

 

Flight FI644 IAD-KEF

True Story: About a year ago, I was making my morning commute when I noticed this praying mantis on my windshield.  He was holding on for dear life as I whipped around curvy country roads at 50 mph, and I swear I kept seeing his head tilting to look directly at me…. cursing me, clearly. But, by some grace of the praying mantis gods, the little guy made it alive and intact! I tried to imagine what was going through his mind; he must have been disoriented as all get-out considering he probably lived his whole life in a one-mile radius up until that point, and here I just took him on a seventeen-mile joyride…

Today, I feel like that praying mantis.

It is sort of mind-blowing how, in the time it takes to watch a couple of documentaries and flip through the Sky Mall magazine, I can be transported from a runway in Washington, D.C., to a completely different world of geothermal energy, puffins, and Dottirs.

It is currently Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 00:31 EDT. I have not slept a wink yet, know there is only another two hours to this flight and that I should get some sleep, but at this point, what is the difference between two hours and no hours?

Here was my view out the window around 00:31 EDT when we were basically due south of Greenland: