Editor’s Note: As promised at the conclusion of the July 9th edition story about Christie Fisher heading to Greenland with GEaR. Here is part 1 of 3 of her amazing adventure.
Arriving into Kulusuk, Greenland is like something out of a movie; flying between two mountains, dropping down over town, and landing onto the only piece of pavement in the village. When we got off the plane we were greeted like family, because in a way we all are. John, a member of our small team is married to Tinka who is from this village. I met Tinka the day before when we all arrived in Iceland, and will be spending the next three weeks with my team, Tinka, and her family.
When most travelers arrive in Kulusuk they put on their packs and take the mile and a half walk into town on the dirt road. We, on the other hand, had hundreds of pounds of gear and would need a little assistance from a four-wheeler and a trailer, which was happily provided by our contacts here. My home while I am in Greenland is a small family house that has heat and electricity, but no running water, nor a shower. It does, however, come with the most spectacular views!
On arrival day I met more family members than I will be able to keep track of, some who speak a smattering of English, many who do not, but all who were welcoming to us. I’ve tried to learn a few words of Eastern Greenlandic, and have managed, I think, to learn how to say thank you, you’re welcome, and hello. A short walk through town reveals many small homes perched on top of bedrock. It gets so windy here that many houses have steel cables tying their roof down to the rock so that they don’t fly away during a storm. The brightly colored houses, most painted red or blue, catch your eye and contrast perfectly with the snow-covered mountains across the water. The scenery here is like a picture-perfect postcard, in every direction.
Families are close, often with multiple generations living either close by or in the same house. Homes are small and efficient, and when it is bedtime the mattresses come out and are placed on floors to make room for those who are staying the night (I’ve done this for a couple of nights as well). Dinner at the family home is full of energy and happiness, with children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and guests all coming together to share in the meal (if not literally at the same table and time). As a simple gesture of gratitude for their hospitality, I bought groceries and made a meal for the entire family on my third night in town; an Indian curry with an Australian dessert - perhaps as unusual to them as whale soup is to me.
I’ve been on one morning run out on the sandy, hilly road to the airport and back. Later that day I was told that a polar bear had been sighted on a nearby island, ‘so no more running without a gun, okay?.’ Running while holding a cellphone is hard enough as it is, let alone trying to safely manage a phone AND a rifle, while running and looking around for a predator. Maybe I’ll just skip the running thing for a while.
I organized and negotiated logistics for our helicopter flights out to the search area, which will include establishing our own fuel cache at an old WWII US Army outpost. It will not be an easy undertaking, but it not only saves us much needed funds, it affords us the opportunity to explore a historical site that figures prominently into the story of the Duck. To get ourselves ready, we negotiate boat transport (our cache location is some 100 miles away by sea), and reorganize our equipment yet again, this time for a land-based camp of up to four nights. I’m both exited and nervous about this part of the expedition, but look forward to what I will be able to share of this next phase of my Greenland adventure.