Eqi Ice Camp (Taste of Greenland)

(From Sunday 24 June 2012)

This morning, the Taste of Greenland film crew, Ace & Ace, and I left first thing in the morning to sail to our next destination: Eqi Ice Camp next to the very actively calving Eqi Sermia Glacier. I should clarify that when I say we sailed I do not mean we were on a sailboat.  In Greenland, any trip is called sailing even if the boat has a motor!  We sailed northwest around the Nussuaq peninsula and made a stop at the furthest most western tip to see an ancient polar bear trap!  There would be delicious smelling and tasting meat inside the structure to lure the polar bear close.  The entranceway was quite small so that the polar bear had to wedge its way through to get to the meat.  The movement and struggle would cause a large boulder, positioned in the roof, to fall at the entranceway and trap the polar bear inside.  The structure looked like a small, square stone house, but the way you could tell it was not a house is because there were no windows, and also, the walls were far thicker than a house would have had.  They were thick so that the angry trapped polar bear could not break through.

(Note: the picture below is not the polar bear trap, but is at the same location!)

The next stop we made was near the abandoned coal-mining settlement on the east coast of Disko Island called Qulissat.  It was built in the 1920’s and had been abandoned by the 1970’s because the coal ran out, although this fact was anticipated from the beginning.  Some say that it was a blessing the inhabitants left when they did because not long after, a very large piece of the mountain directly behind the settlement broke off and toppled to the bay, causing a large tsunami-like wave to wash over the land and destroy a sizable portion of the settlement.  Forty years later though, what is left of this settlement is preserved in near-perfect condition!  A few of the houses are leaning and deteriorating, but most are still standing.  It was as if the town was empty only because everybody was out in the mine or out on the water for the afternoon!  There is scheduled to be a celebratory reunion of sorts in the settlement starting on 6 July.

It was here, in the waters between Disko Island and Nussuaq that we met a large crab boat to film with.  The film crew got shots of the boat from far away, from close up, appearing from around an iceberg, disappearing behind an iceberg, with Chris on the boat, with Chris off the boat, and shots of the entire crabbing process… essentially we spent a few good hours more or less stationary!  Around this area, we also saw a pair of humpback whales!  They blew a couple of times and did some deep dives to show their dorsal fins and tail flukes!  I, unfortunately, was unable to get a picture – with a handful of other people crowding around to get pictures and video for the show, I was definitely low man on the totem pole for getting a decent spot to stand!

After close to twelve hours on the boat, we finally reached Eqi!  The water was, well, glacial blue because of the extremely cold temperature of the water, and it was so filled with small icebergs that we had to sail slowly in order to weave our way through the maze of ice.

 

We sailed right up to the rocks at the base of Eqi Ice Camp, unloaded filming gear and luggage, and then carried it all up the hill to our cabins.  The camp is owned by a local tour operator, World of Greenland, and consists of 18 huts and a kitchen cabin.  Four of the huts are newly renovated and called “Comfort Cabins” because they have amenities like running water and electricity.  Chris got a comfort cabin, as did the girls (Anne Mette, Yuki, and I), and everybody else (Anders, Esben, Eskil, and Finn) was in a standard hut.  The standard huts are very basic, with no running water or electricity.  The comfort cabins, on the other hand, are basically just like a hotel.  Four twin beds with very comfortable linens and pillows, a small seating area with a fully stocked wet bar, a private restroom, hot running water, three electrical outlets, a private balcony with chairs covered in muskox furs… oh yeah, and not a single thing blocking the million-dollar view of Eqi Glacier!

  

Despite the extra amenities of these accommodations, there are two things about the location that not even luxury can overcome.  First, there are literally hundreds of mosquitos around, but some good “Mozzie Cream” (as the Ace & Ace guys call it) and a mosquito net for the head pretty much remedy that situation.

Second, since the cabins are oriented westward in order to have a direct view of the glacier, the “setting” sun shone directly through the great windows that practically take up the entire wall.  It was so incredibly hot most of the night that it was difficult to sleep comfortably.  To be fair, though, I would say that the thunder-like sound of the glacier calving all night, and then waking up to look directly at the magnificent view without even getting out of bed, 95% made up for the down sides!

Also, the group of thirteen very cute Arctic Fox that scurried around the camp left a good impression 🙂

(From Monday 25 June 2012)

Today was another cooking scene – this time to cook up the crab that was caught yesterday near Qulissat.  The film crew selected a site not far from the Ice Camp that gave a great view of the Eqi Glacier behind Chris as he prepared and cooked his Crab Risotto!  A few times the glacier calved during filming which was perfect!

 

The mosquitos were definitely problematic for shooting this scene because they were rampant around the camera and the food.  So what did we do?  We doused the finished plate in mosquito spray with hopes that the mosquitos would stay away long enough to take some still photos of the final dish without seeing little black dots all over the white plate!  I joked that we should do a outtake called “Taste of DEET”!

Since there were no tourists to interview in Uummannaq, and only three to interview at Eqi (one of which declined to participate), I ended up returning to Ilulissat a day early in an attempt to make up for lost time.  So while the rest of the Taste of Greenland crew took a private boat charter to Oqaatsut (Rode Bay) for the night, I hopped on the Disko Line tourist boat and sailed five hours back to Ilulissat.

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