(From Lørdag, Juni 2, 2012)
Yesterday and today were great days! After work yesterday, Sharon and I walked around the Colonial Harbor area which is right by our office on Hans Egedesvej (the road name). We also climbed up a small hill to the status of Hans Egede, founder of Godthåb/Nuuk in the early 1700’s. From there, there was a beautiful panoramic view of the water and the city! Then we went to the grocery store to pick up some food to cook for dinner at her apartment in Nussuaq. We ended up with seasoned ox burgers (which I think is actually beef, but they call it ox, not to be confused with musk ox, which is an entirely different beast!), frozen vegetables, baguette, stinky cheese, and pate! We had hoped to buy some red wine to pair with our burgers but we learned the hard way that in Nuuk they stop selling alcohol at 18.00, and then it is not possible to buy it until Monday morning, so if you do not have your supply by Friday afternoon, you are out of luck!
It was not to worry, however, because Roar, with whom Sharon is staying for her home stay accommodations, had plenty of wine in the pantry! It was actually pretty warm out (maybe 55*F), so we sat out on their balcony and drank wine and ate bread, cheese, and pate! While Sharon and I wore long pants and sleeves to feel comfortable, Roar was actually in shorts and a t-shirt! I hypothesize that how cold one feels and his choice of clothing is all relative! In Greenland, these temperatures are on the warm side of the scale; it does not get much warmer than this, so people say, “This is it! This is the warmest we are getting so we might as well make the most of it!” Whereas in the US, these temperatures feel cool, and we know that we will get warmer days, so we still bundle up and hold out for the really nice weather! Also, I was told this many times before coming here, and after only one week I see that it is in fact true… because there is minimal humidity, it never feels as cold as the thermometer says it is. So I was very comfortable sitting outside in the 55*F weather, whereas in the US someone would look at you like you are crazy if you did that!
After a wine and cheese session, we cooked dinner. Roar made a delicious fish soup and we prepared burgers, and then we had a delicious feast! It was great to talk to Roar about life in Greenland, history, etc. He is from the Faroe Islands, which is also a Danish Protectorate (I am not sure if they have a home rule like Greenland does), so it was interesting to compare the Danish perspective I get from Pia & Ulrik and coworkers to his Faroese perspective to Sharon’s and my American perspective, to the Greenlandic perspective we see a little bit at work.
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Today, I was able to get some work done in the morning while Pia, Ulrik, Aviaja, and her friend Ivalu (I think that is how you spell her name) went shopping in town, and then when they got back, we went out in their small 4-person dinghy for a couple hours in the afternoon! They have another, larger boat but it still needs a few weeks’ worth of work before it can get put in the water for the summer. But this boat was just fine. The whole experience actually reminded me a lot of the first Spring water day on the Tennessee River as a member of the Baylor School Rowing Team! The anticipation of getting on the water after being land-bound for the past months; the excitement of being so close to the water; the freedom of driving out and away from land and seeing it all from a different view…
First things first, we had to get gas before doing anything! There is a boat gas station in the harbor – functions just like a car gas station! Pull your boat up, tie it up, fuel it from the pump, and go pay inside 🙂 Then we were off!
We had two choices of where to go. We could either go north toward the Davis Strait, or we could go south into the fjords. Ulrik decided to go south because it was broadcast earlier that morning that there was a polar bear just across the water from Nuuk! We later came to find out that tons of people rode out to where the polar bear was napping high atop the rocks. Evidently he was fairly uninterested in all the water traffic below him!
From the harbor we headed south until we were out past the peninsula on which Nuuk and Qinngorput lie; I guess peninsula is the correct word. All of the Greenland coast is made up of fjord systems, so the land comes out like craggly fingers. After we cleared the land and were on the backside of Store Malene/Ukkusissat (the mountain that dwarfs us in Qinngorput) we turned and headed northeast into Kobbefjord. On the map, the fjord appears to cut in maybe 30-40 miles, but we only went halfway and it took us about 30 minutes. Even though it was 16*C or warmer (approximately 60*F) on land, it was pretty chilly on the water because of the speed of the boat. It was interesting, though, that once we got a little ways into the fjord and were shielded from the open water winds, the air temperature was noticeably warmer! It was like we hit a wall when we crossed that point! We met up with Pia & Ulrik’s friends, Hans and Katrine, whom I met last weekend when they were over for drinks. They were cod-fishing so we stopped with them and threw our lines out a time or two. We did not use fishing poles; instead we used this plastic handle thing and just manually unwound and wound the fishing line around it. No bites, though!
We concluded the boat trip by pulling into shore, anchoring, and climbing a little ways up the grassy hill to get a good look out over Kobbefjord, pictured below. Hans’ and Katrine’s boat anchored as well, so I had the chance to meet their friend, an American named Doug, who had moved to Nuuk a few months ago! Although he is American by birth, he has lived in Denmark for a couple decades, so I did not consider him in the same boat as me! No pun intended. But he was nice to talk to! We stayed about twenty minutes or so, enough time to have a Faxe Kondi (a soda that is like Mountain Dew) and some cookies, and then we were off again.
We got back home around 18.30 which was perfect timing to meet Sharon in Nussuaq (where she lives) so that we could walk around the City Center and get our bearings a little better. I should mention that while I live in Qinngorput, Sharon lives in Nussuaq, and we work in City Center, these are not different towns or zip codes. It is all the capital city of Nuuk. The whole inhabited area cannot be more than a three mile radius! Saying “Qinngorput” and “Nussuaq” is more like saying the name of an apartment complex or housing development.
Sharon and I walked around the southwest part of Nuuk. There is a road over there, I think it is Nuukullak, which is called the “Beverly Hills” of Nuuk because the houses are very large single family homes, pictured below.. (As opposed to the majority of housing in Nuuk which is either small homes, long low apartment buildings, or tall skinny apartment buildings There are also the Bloks right in the center of town, which I am sad to say look more like tenements than anything else. There are plans in the works, though, to refurbish them and, for some, even reconstruct them.) But back to Beverly Hills – these houses are not just large for Nuuk standards; they would be large in the US, as well! But they were constructed very similarly to how beach houses in the Outer Banks, for example, are constructed.
From “Beverly Hills” we went down to the rocky shore and sat for a bit, collected sea glass, and then checked out some centuries-old Moravian Monk ruins right along the water, pictured below. Right now they only look like grassy/straw-covered mounds that stand about 2′ high, but there is some of the original rock wall and entrance way exposed which is very cool! These homes are tiny… MAYBE 50 square feet! I am assuming they were used for sleeping and not much else – I cannot imagine how there was room for any other activity!
We finished the evening by stopping into barista, a cute little coffee shop/cafe that I had been to once before. We both got chicken (kylling) paninis and smoothies!
All in all, it was a great day! I was so happy to have the chance to go out on Pia & Ulrik’s boat, and I feel like I have a good mental map of Nuuk now!