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Day 9: Welcome to my Village

GREENLAND | Monday, 21 October 2013 | Views [2223]

Boat Ride Across Fjords

Arriving into a new city by the sea in a chartered boat is more fun when you are placed in it after a bone-jarring hike.  You feel glad that movement is through the power of a propeller and not from pushing your paining limbs. Riding the Taga 12 seat-er across choppy waters was a blast. As the sea waves splashed and the boat rushed through, the afternoon had a heady start to it.

House exterior/wall in Greenland, Red

We chalked out of Polar Lodge in the morning, checked our gear into the airport and dashed off to a nearby site before boarding the Dash 57 to Maniitsoq. We spent close to two hours shooting buildings and a school in Kangerlussuaq, pretty much our last day with the town. On our way back to the airport, we found out that the city had only two taxis, and the one that had dropped us off was off to polar ice cap, and the other was busy. While the town is not huge, it is definitely not walking distance, and with time a major constraint, we got onto a local bus (the only bus in the town!). The small bus ambled around the same curve twice, picking and dropping curious kids and women, as we waited anxiously not to miss the flight.

We managed to reach in time, and a hurried chips and sausages gorging later, were sitting in an ATR for a 45-minute hop to Maniitsoq. In Maniitsoq, the weather received us at its worst and it was raining. The authorities at the airport also updated us with bad weather predictions for the next two days. Few taxi trips back and forth, all our gear was secure and we boarded our Charter Taga to take us to Kangamuit, in a 3-hour ride across some gorgeous fjords.

Kangamuit is a tiny village with a population of 300 South of Kangerlussuaq. Low flying seagulls greet you upfront, followed by boats of different shapes and sizes and finally the colourful houses that dot this fishing village. All in shades of red, blue, yellow, and green, making you wonder why city landscape is always so awfully boring in contrast.

Jason Edwards Greenland ManitsoqTruck in Kangerlussaq. Doll hanging from Vehicle

Manitsoq Boats Aputsiaq on Boat, Yellow Jacket Man

Our new friends, Kristeen and her shy daughter greeted us at the dock. We exchanged pleasantries as we unloaded our gear from our boat. Now, all of us combined had tons of gear and Jason’s gear alone weighs in excess of 100kgs with two hard cases and numerous bags. And throughout the trip, we have taken several trips in sometimes the same vehicle and at times multiple, to transport all the equipment. But never before in our lifetimes, any one of us would have moved luggage on a JCB! At first when the slow but sturdy heavy construction machine approached the dock, none of us had thought it was to cargo our luggage! Jason jumped on to it for a little while and it was hilarious to watching him ascend the hill with all those bags.

Our bags were going, but I did not know where. I had arrived to Kangamuit knowing that there were no hotels. I knew we were to homestay, but who’s home and where, I had no inkling.

Travelers often bank on the kindness of strangers. Sometimes many provide shelter, often food and conversations, and if you are lucky and have patience, some great stories. Hospitality and generosity of people you meet is what keeps you going. Unheard of elsewhere and never encountered in our combined travel experiences, does one host give her house to a gang of strangers and goes to live in their parent’s house. Kristen and her family did exactly that! While we were apologetic at putting them in discomfort, we were grateful as we relaxed in their beautiful house. Soon a delicious dinner of Tuttu-reindeer and Halibut warmed the cockles of our heart and stomach, our first proper meal in Greenland and such delicious delicacies.

Fed and happy, I enjoyed the sea view from the French float glasses as I observed Kasper’s Greenland collection- seal skin, polar goggles – solid bone rectangles with slits in between to prevent snow blindness, miniature dolls, and a clock as if it was part of the wall and not put on it. The guys filmed the house and we had a round of interviews.

I walked around the area, and was mystified by the unpretentious life that existed. The colorful houses and nice breeze made me nostalgic for a time that wasn’t even mine. I wanted to be a part of this village. Grow up there, and learn how to hunt. I was overjoyed at the simplicity and when I ended up finding a swing, I spent close to half an hour singing and swinging.

Back at the house, I asked Jason and he quickly explained the functioning of a flash to me, and how he uses TTL with Rear Sync for freezing motion. Part of it was difficult to understand, but I grasped all that I could and wanted to put my flash to some good use.

Evening in Manitsoq, Picture Postcard

Towards evening, which is very late in Greenland, we ventured for a stroll and got some great light over the town. We all walked our separate ways and Jason got a mindboggling picture of a kid shooting hoops. I spent some time by the docks, catching the last bits of the golden glow from the setting sun. I had almost lost the guys, but Kangamuit is so small that the entire village can be walked from end to end in 15 minutes and I soon found Simon nodding to a lady with a black puppy frolicking around her. I went up to him, and greeted the lady, who did not speak any English and our two words of Greenlandic was not enough to continue a conversation. But signs and smiles can break all language barriers, and when I told her I am from India, she beamed and did a Namaste (Indian Greeting equivalent of a handshake) to me. Soon we were chatting about India and Greenland, without understanding what was being said but quite getting the emotion conveyed. She invited us into her house, and we were more than grateful.

Once inside, our camera lenses fogged out from the change in temperature and despite rubbing the glass clean, the fog wouldn’t come off easy. We let it thaw, and indulged in animated conversations with Zenobia, our new friend. The 50-something lady was happier to have us at her place than we were excited at having a chance to explore another house from such close proximity. She showed us her family photographs, paintings and knitting, as she served us tea in span cutlery while a TV blared news about the weather from all over. I discovered this trend later, but all houses, like Zenobia’s place in Kangamuit were warmly done. The heating provides instant warmth from the chill outside, and inside, it is complete with neatly arranged souvenirs- most carved by the people themselves, candles, and photographs of family members in various stages of their development. Greenlanders are also very proud of the degrees they obtain and most homes had certificates laminated and promptly displayed.

Soon the crew and Jason joined us, and when Zenobia requested for a photograph, several cameras started firing away simultaneously. One look from Jason, and we all had to stop. He made a portrait of her and we spent some time chatting.

She gifted me a set of blue dollies she had knit herself. It is difficult to create photos when there is a language barrier, but I had made a new friend and the only one with that name in the whole of Greenland, Zenobia. 

Zenobia, Inuit Woman, Manitsoq

Tags: fishing village, manitsoq, reaching a new city

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