Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday September 18, 2015

Last two days have been spent exploring two small towns with long names in Greenland, specifically Nanortalik (today) and Qaqortoq (yesterday). The weather here continues to be cold (low forties) and gray with on and off light rain. Both towns are what you might expect -- small, poor and with not much to see. But it's interesting because even though we were in each of these towns only for a couple of hours I think we still got at least a vague feeling for the place.

Qaqortoq harbor 
Drying fish -- can't even imagine how long it would take for this fish to dry in 40 degree drizzle 

Both towns necessitated tenders and for Qaqortoq there was an obvious breakdown in the ship's tendering process. Apparently everyone wanted to get off the ship at the same time and they could only unload one tender at a time at the shoreside dock. Translation: major lines and packed boats, time spent waiting and no personal space. Also, the towns are not really set up to accommodate two thousand people either so even though there may be a store selling stuff that you want (a big assumption) you might not want to wait in the half hour plus line to actually make the purchase. So there you have it -- the ugly side of cruising.

Line for tender back to boat in Qaqortoq 
The one and only souvenir store in Nanortalik (it was hot and humid in there too! I should know -- I fought my way in!)
Native Greenlandic costumes

Now, as for the two towns, here are some of the sights I remember seeing (in no particular order):

1.) I saw not one but two baby carriages parked outside the front of stores -- with babies in them! I guess the mothers figure, "Where is someone going to take them?"
2.) Checked out grocery stores in both towns. They were fairly impressive. Lots of processed and frozen food of course but most everything you would want and even a few things you might not expect such as lemon grass (in a jar) and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (kind of like selling ice cubes to Eskimos?)

3.) Fish is obviously a big part of the culture. We saw fish hung out to dry in several places and freshly caught fish for sale.

4.) Dogs are outdoor animals. Most are mutts but generally well-behaved.

5.) Houses are small and brightly colored

6.) There are some cars but interestingly no ATVs. Maybe it has something to do with being Danish? (Greenland is part of Danish kingdom)
7.) Post Office service is privatized and seems to work well

8.) It's possible to purchase an LG washer and a big, flat-screen "smart TV"
9.) Helicopters are used quite a bit. No two towns in Greenland are connected by roads. Imagine that!
10.) Mostly single family houses but some apartment/condo buildings

11.) Nanortalik has three polar bears in its town symbol and in the last couple of years several polar bears have made their way into the town. Where they were promptly shot. Don't ask me.
12.) Although both these towns initially appear God-forsaken, they each possess some charm. In Qaqortoq it's the fountain square and in Nanortalik it's the church.

Nanortalik church (they're Lutheran)

13.) Carving is an important part of Greenlandic culture 

Sorry I couldn't string all these observations into a less random whole. I know you'll understand though.

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