Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Time To Reflect

The dominate feature of Uummannaq is the looming heart-shaped mountain for which it is named.  It is not a large island.  Only 12 sq. km. but it feels big.  Wandering around the barren landscape which begins on the edge of town, there is a feeling of  large, open, empty space.  But it is only empty if you don't pause to listen, if you don't take the time to see.  Snow Buntings sing their cheery song.  Ravens croak and gurgle.  Insects whine and buzz.  A soft wind caresses the land. Every patch of sand or soil in the mostly rock environment supports plant life.
Time passes differently here.  For those of us from a western culture time seems to pass us slowly.    A Greenlandic friend says that time does not pass us but it is always coming towards us.  I think about these thinks on our guided hike to the other side of the island.  The land seems heavy. Perhaps there is a psychological impact from all of that rock on my western psyche, used to grass and trees.
In town there is a juxtaposition of past and present.  I pause to photograph some Greenlandic dogs and in the background is a tarpaulin-wrapped snowmobile parked right beside a dog sled.  Past meets present but both the snow mobile and the dog sled have their different uses.  Climate change is effecting how much use people can get from their dog team. There are fewer days when a hunter can get out on the ice with his dogs.  
In the early evening we visited the village of Ukkusissat.  Icebergs surrounded the peninsula on which the village is situated and invade the small harbour.
We invited the people from the village to the ship where they entertained us with Greenlandic folk dancing and singing.  Some of them were dressed in traditional clothing.  Obviously there is a lot of skill and time required to create the intricate detailing in the clothing.
After the singing and dancing we jumped into the Polar Cirkel boats and visited Ukkusissat.  We were free to roam at our leisure.   We watched a woman feed her hungry dogs raw halibut which the dogs enthusiastically gulped down.  
There was plenty of time to explore. 
By 21:00 we were all back on the ship and under way once again.  It was a very full day.  There is a lot to reflect upon.