Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 7 - Saattut

A good day dawning!  Starting with a cup of "mud", my own recipe of Nestle Choco Hot Creamy chocolate powder mixed with copious amounts of instant coffee, whipped into abandon and then chewed until I have to employ my finger around the edges to get the last bits of goop.  The orange Swedish folding mug in the photo above has been on many a trip in the wilds and has the stains to prove it.  Whereas I am interested in maintaining good hygiene standards when in the wilds I won't get any smilies pinned onto my tent!  Boiling water for drinks I boil enough for the flask plus one drink.  I might start with a soup.  To clean the soup out I follow up with an instant coffee - usually a bog-standard Nescafe.  A little later I might try a powdered Latté or Cappucino mix.  To clean that out, and dissolve the lumps I missed despite frantic stirring, I finish off with a flavoured instant coffee. 

At this point, completely out of my skull on caffeine, the tent starts to spin ever so slowly, uncannily in tune to my full bladder.  Depending upon the weather and the presence of winged-teeth I barrel out of the tent to pee.  If the weather is fine I stay out and take photos, if not I barrel back into the tent and boil up some more water for that final cup of mud. 

In this northern Buena Vista Social Club I pass the time by poring over the map, writing in my diary, reading whopping great books and listening to my MP3.  Being quite dated with a chunky MP3 player of limited storage space I have to seriously consider what I want to take with me.  This trip I chose to take the BBC dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings.  It is pure dead brilliant though unfortunately spliced with some frightful music in between.  I can't help thinking Mr Jackson might have been inspired by Gollum in this series developed for radio.  I can heartily recommend it for all LOTR fans.  Of course, with all this entertainment packed into my tiny living space it is quite an effort to pull myself out and visit the settlements.

Leaving Frodo and Ned Stark to fend for themselves a bit I wandered through a Tolkien landscape into "town".  Saattut is about 21km as the raven flies from Uummannaq.  I have been here a few times previously in the summer and once drove here across the ice in a pick-up together with Lars, Suzi, their son Tiuri and Jane.  Arne, Hotel Uummannaq, drove us all the way to Ukkusissat and back that day.  I have, however, never arrived in Saattut by the back door as it were.  It was a totally different settlement that I experienced.

I was a little late for the service house where I hoped to get a shower, nor was the shop open.  I had mixed my days up and thought that is was Saturday already.  However, I learned from a man hoping to buy "strong tobacco" from me, that everything would open again in an hour.  It was lunchtime on a Friday.  I decided on a shower first and tried out my Greenlandic in the council office where I paid 15,- dkk for a key to the shower.  The toilet bucket was a welcome sight too - do remember that Jane and I have been using a metal toilet bucket for four years and this council bucket was pure luxury! 

To say my skin was greasy is a serious understatement, so I'll leave it at that and we'll move on shall we?

I met an old student in Pilersuisoq, Aqqa, who I remembered as being bright and cheerful and very studious.  She had not changed and it was fun to catch up.  She knew I was moving to Qaanaaq and would be there herself on holiday when Jane and I were due to arrive. 

Splashing out on ice cream and bottled water I checked in with Lars and was rewarded with relief associated with no worries from his side regarding the garbled satellite phone message.  We agreed that the satellite phone was now defunct and took it off the safety plan.  It was interesting to note, for me anyway, that I was reluctant to tell both Lars and Jane, later, that I had ruined my dry suit.  If I went in the water the failure of the dry suit would be more critical than the satellite phone.  I felt that if I confessed about the dry suit I would have to make a more serious decision.  We brushed over the topic quickly as I changed the subject each time.

The church in Saattut.

The view form the centre(ish) of Saattut towards the harbour.

Clean and content I wandered around "town", careful not to take photos of people.  I could not hide the fact that I was a tourist but I did not want to offend the locals either.  I had been just as curious about arriving in Saattut as I had been the other day in Ikerasak.  Whereas I did not really talk with people here either, I did get a much warmer feeling about the settlement.  Previously, while translating for tourist groups in Saattut, I had felt very distant from the people.  This time I realised that more people knew me and it felt as though my presence was accepted.  The Liverpool Football Club baseball cap I was wearing helped too, especially when meeting former students - avid Man United supporters to a man!  (I should perhaps apologize to Folbot that I rarely wore the cap they sent me with the Folbot logo.  I have a big head ... no comment necessary ... and the LFC hat just fit better is all.)

I made my way back to Raven's Death Campsite and could almost taste the first cup of mud on my tongue!

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