The morning dawned clear, the air crisp. Our group leader notified us that the day seemed like a good one for kayaking. It definitely looked more practical than yesterday with its cloudy skies, wind and waves. I quickly decided what to wear for kayaking. On one hand, it was a bit brisk. On the other, I didn’t want to overdress and overheat while kayaking. And this was no ordinary kayaking adventure. I opted for running tights and a thermal undershirt. I always remember the adage that “cotton kills” and made sure to wear something without cotton. In the end, the Expedition Team had me covered, both literally and figuratively. First order of the day was to go down to Deck 2 and get outfitted in special gear. That in itself took a long time. First I put on a thermal layer with long sleeves and legs, next came a waterproof suit. This outfit would keep me warm and dry. It was definitely a tad long and very attractive for sure, and although easier than putting on a dry suit, it required some effort to get it on properly. After these two pieces of gear were tightened and secured, I put on a special pair of shoes. To finish, I added a pair of gloves. I definitely looked like the Michelin man – or woman. With all of this gear it was hard to tell.
While the kayaking group was dressing, the Expedition Team checked out a place where we could launch the kayaks and then towed the kayaks to the shore. Once everything was organized on their end, we headed out to shore via our own tender.
We had a wet landing here, so I was grateful for the waterproof boots provided. Once on shore, we had to decide on a kayaking partner. The guides recommended that tall people take the rear of the tandem kayaks. Having kayaked with an inexperienced kayaker who paddles in infinite circles, I made an executive decision and announced that my delightful partner, much taller than I, but also inexperienced, would take the front seat. She did an amazing job and got into a perfect paddling rhythm. We made a great team.
The blue sky, warm sun and smooth combined for a perfect morning of kayaking. I forgot how chilly it really was – the temperature usually hovered around the freezing mark. The time passed quickly and when I thought that we would head back to the ship, our leaders decided that we would just go to the spot where the tenders were bringing other guests to the shore to explore Igaliku. The tender swiftly took us to the ship where I changed into normal clothes, grabbed a quick bite and headed back to shore to explore this village with a population of 27.
A Town Lost in Time
Igaliku, on the western coast of Greenland, contrasted greatly with the previous two ports that we had visited. Definitely greener, it also had a incredibly small population and most of those few dozen people seemed to be away on vacation. This village appeared almost abandoned. Somebody had to watch those sheep scattered in the fields. One of the shore excursions was cancelled due to the only guide around being unavailable. One of the residents graciously opened his home to us visitors. He sat on his porch watching the passersby and attracted our attention with the scraggliest eagle that I have ever seen. The one-room house where he lived was cluttered, but did have some precious belongings, especially a set of engagement rings he had at the ready.Apparently, it’s possible to fashion engagement rings from animal bones. A few of us entered his house and our host particularly spoke to the Swedish woman in the group – they seemed to have some common words in their respective languages. He seemed to really be interested in putting one of those rings on her finger. After a short while, we excused ourselves and continued to explore the village, which had some Norse stone ruins scattered in a field.
Head to the Hills
My much younger colleagues – the age of my children or even younger- and I ascended the hill overlooking the town via the most direct route, which meant climbing straight up. I took many photos on the way up. This is a good way to hide the fact that you are so out of breath that you need to rest, but certainly I would never admit that. Even though I can barely lift the camera, I scan the sky the area very carefully and for a long time looking for something to photograph. Once I catch my breath, I continue on my way and attempt to catch up with the young’uns. I finally reach the road that the smarter people took to reach the top of this hill and cross that and zigzag to the top. And what a view! On the other side of the hill is another fjord with icebergs sprinkled throughout. They are far away, but close enough to get one of those photos that necessitates pointing out that the white dots are icebergs.
By then, I had reached the rest of the group and they encouraged me to continue down the hill on the other side to get closer to the water. I know that what goes down must come back up and decide to head back to the ship. Prudently, I save my arthritic knees and take the meandering and longer road back to the ship. Even then, I stop to get a few shots in. The beauty of Igaliku was difficult to capture on camera.
Light Up the Night
This stop ranked as a perfect day in my book. What could make it even better? I couldn’t imagine until an announcement came alerting us to the fact that the Northern Lights decided to show themselves this night. I did find them not as impressive as expected and was a bit disappointed until I looked at my photos.
The camera sees light that my eyes couldn’t and nicely captured the spot where I pointed my camera, hoping what I saw was actually the Aurora Borealis. The light that I saw was definitely not green, the light that my camera saw was definitely green. What a totally glorious day this was!