Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 20 - sleeping beside spirits

From my diary:

It is amazing how much I got out of speaking Greenlandic yesterday. It is important to note that Niaqornat has overwhelmingly shown/revealed/exceeded my cultural goals for the expedition. I got by on my level of Greenlandic - with lots of small confusions, but I got by. I sorted it almost without Danish. In fact, Danish did not help one bit! I got a good feeling about the settlement and deliberately left good gear there almost just to prove that I can.I must be sure to mention Niaqornat in this way on my blog, in my trip report. I think the Sermitsiaq article might have helped. Malene certainly saw it, followed the link and recognised me as I walked into their house. Cool, eh? Yes, Niaqornat has been a success, but I might be here a while.
Venturing further [away from the tent], looking for a place to shit, I saw a model turf house not ten metres from my tent. Five metres beyond that are the foundations of an original dwelling - I must have been tired or preoccupied with the beach not to notice them yesterday. I wondered at the Greenlandic hunters who called this place Tuperssussat- the camping place. I hoped their spirits would watch over me when I left this place as the breakers were going to make mincemeat of my folding kayak.

I actually left from the main beach in the settlement itself and spent a long time talking with a hunter who was very familiar with kayaks and a brother to my next-door neighbour in Uummannaq. We talked - in Greenlandic - about the differences between our kayaks and I was introduced to his qajaq that was parked not far from my own. As we talked he was very patient with my stumbling Greenlandic. At the same time he was polishing a polar bear skull.

Interestingly, the cruise ship had entered the bay and was shuttling tourists into Niaqornat on zodiacs. They were gathering on the main beach to see a seal being butchered. Niaqornat has a good relationship with the cruise ships and I was pleased to see the positive response they created among the tourists.

It was time to move on though and I thanked the hunter before pushing off and paddling on. I paddled along the coast, enjoying the long stretches of beach, a truly beautiful coastline and one I had not experienced before. I made a rough landing in light surf and bent the rear deck strut as I exited the cockpit a little too quickly. The Kodiak is a sturdy boat but, as Folbot themselves say, it is not intended for surf and, although light, the waves were interesting enough to force me to move a little quickly. It was a beautiful place to bend the boat though!


As I pitched camp on a rather open expanse of green, the midges found me and we had some discussion as to how long I was going to remain outside the tent. Luckily a breeze picked up and I enjoyed exploring the black sandy beach. A fox challenged me but I just couldn't get an eye on him. I retreated, content, into my portable home.

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