arrival in greenland
It is said that Greenland means ‘the land of man’. To the Greenlandic natives, it is home, where the dark days and sunlit nights demand the human spirit to endure at all costs. As foreigners, it is the land of ice, where the snow never melts and icebergs float at the top of the world. No matter who you are, Greenland is an island of unparalleled beauty, where nature and humans have made peace in the harshest of places.
Our flight from Reykjavik, Iceland to Ilulissat, Greenland was a sleepy three and half hour journey with eight passengers. Touching down, my eyes had never felt so hungry for the landscape now surrounding us. Stepping out onto slushy ice and a grey gloomy horizon, we were finally standing on solid ground in the Arctic Circle. Taking a cab into the city center, we came upon a big and busy town. About 5,000 people make up the town of Ilulissat, with two markets, stores, cafe’s and rolling hills of brightly painted homes. After dropping off 5 bags of gear and 2 bags of clothing at our hostel, we ventured out into the rain. Walking down the steep and slippery wooden steps we came into the marina where the winter had consumed everything in its path. There were no docks or lines to be seen, just lonely boats locked in time by the frozen sea. Justin went first, fearing nothing as we walked out onto the frozen sea. My heart hesitated as I could feel the ice crunching beneath my feet and I could sense the ocean not too far from the soles of my shoes. With spring coming, April and May fill their time with melting the ice to make way for a dryer summer. Much warmer than expected, the rainy day temperatures range from 2-7º celsius. Some of the youth wear only a sweatshirt and beanie as the evening streets are filled with small groups of teenagers squealing and giggling.
Apart from the weather, there are avocados in the grocery markets for only $3 and tomatoes with almost every meal. Most of the food is imported from Denmark, although the reindeer, muskox, and fish are from Greenland. For lunch today Justin had a muskox burger with french fries, I enjoyed a fried fish sandwich, one coffee, one lemonade and our bill stated a total of $55 USD. With our hostel at $86 per night, living here demands physical strength, mental tenacity and a large reserve of monetary funds.
Ilulissat means ‘iceberg’ in Greenlandic, and the city is known for its UNESCO protected icebergs and glaciers. About a five hour snow packed hike from town, tomorrow we plan to trek through the mountains to reach lands edge where the larger than life iceberg calves. With the internet in only one place in town, we will post as much as possible as we continue to explore the magic of this frozen wonderland.