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    T r a v e l R e p o r t-S e i t e  2
M e n u e
Uummannaq Fjord
  South from there, we find a fantastic camp site with views across both glaciers. Due to the south wind that's been blowing for the past two days, this side of the coast is nearly free of ice. Many fishermen make use of this golden opportunity and fish for halibut and other fish in these nutrient-rich waters. They cast long lines from their little motorboats between the ice floes.
The Greenlanders are very hospitable, and this fisherman immediately offered us a taste of his catch. Normally, I'm not a fan of raw fish. But who can say >No< when it's as fresh as that.
  We have the rare opportunity to advance as far as the end of the fjord, and to reach the ice sheet from there. Unfortunately, the wind shifts north during the night, however, and so we're glad to still find sufficient open water to escape the constantly growing drift ice. We head towards Ikerasak, where, two days later, we come upon Jorgen. Jorgen is Danish and has been living in Greenland for 25 years. He is trying to preserve the traditions and the wisdom of the Inuit, and to pass them on to the younger generations. His partner is an Inuit, and she still has a lot of feeling for nature and the original habitat of her people. Jorgen spends a lot of time looking after his sled dogs, which are a natural part of every household north of the polar circle, in the same way that cars or bicycles are normal to us. In the summer, he and his partner live in a traditional turf house at the edge of the small settlement.
  The turf houses are small wooden houses that are insulated against the Arctic temperatures by a thick layer of turf on the outside.
  Jorgen also keeps his little white Greenland-kayak here, which he, like some of the other villagers, still uses to hunt for seals. I would have loved to have tried out this kayak, but I fear I would have had to break my legs before I could have fitted into the tiny cockpit.
Its construction is similar to that of our folding boat. A cloth is stretched over a wooden frame and made waterproof with a protective varnish. It's a very small sea kayak that is mostly used to noiselessly hunt for seals.
  During our brief tour of the island, Jorgen stuffs herbs and flowers into his mouth at every occasion, and explains to us which plants help with different diseases. Two days later, when we say good-bye to him, he presents each of us with a hand-made lucky glass-bead necklace and a ptarmigan claw, which, according to him, is a lucky charm: >If we carry this ptarmigan claw with us at all times, we will never get cold feet again<. In our experience, it doesn't always work - but neither does it do any harm. Our way leads north for a while, where we enjoy the calm in a sheltered, rocky bay. From the surrounding high rocks, you are afforded a spectacular view westwards across the rock faces of Storoen Island, all the way to the distant Uummannaq Island. We sit in the sun for hours here, and keep an eye open for gushers and surfacing whales. We often pick up the sounds of gushers, but because they are so far away, the whales have long dived by the time the sounds reach us.
  Not even gnats are disturbing our peace this year. So I am able to sit for hours on the high rocks in shorts, and enjoy the perfect quiet and the infinite view into the distance.
  Nevertheless, we still manage to observe the animals a few times through our binoculars as they make their way through the icebergs. For the next few days, we travel along the southern coastline of Storoen Island towards Uummannaq. Countless bird species are nesting in the steep rock faces, which rise as high as 1200 meters right by the water. We still have to keep our distance due to the chunks of rock that keep crashing down. The weather has become changeable again, and so we pitch one last camp just 8 kilometers from Uummannaq. We prefer to wait until the next day, hoping for better conditions for our final crossing. The wind increases during the night, however, and turns into a storm. The normally motionless icebergs now reach speeds of several kilometers per hour, driven by the cold wind that blows across the ice sheet. The surf washes over them and the rocks on the shore.
  In this weather, there are no more fishing boats on the water.
  The waves now reach heights of several meters. We secure our belongings on the lee side of the rocks, and wonder how we are to make our return flight from Uummannaq in two days' time. We try to make radio contact with fishermen and Uummannaq. But without success, since there are no fishermen around in this weather. Eventually, a radio station 200 kilometers away answers our calls. The Hotel Uummannaq is contacted by telephone, and they in turn try to organize a pick-up for the next day. We start to prepare for an immediate departure: we take the folding kayak apart and bag everything else as best we can. The storm rages on across the towering waves, and only once do we catch a glimpse of a freighter rolling in the waves far away. At the appointed time, we make radio contact with Uummannaq again. But to our dismay, we only receive the short answer: >A pick-up isn't possible at the moment, as it would be too dangerous in the rough seas.< We sit on our bags in the pouring rain as our return flight, as well as the connecting flight to Copenhagen, move beyond our reach. We seek shelter in a small hut that was left behind by fishermen, and ask ourselves how to handle this new situation.
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Last update: 03/14/09
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