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!

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