After our magic cruise amongst islands and icebergs, it was a smooth journey up the fjord to the small settlement of Tasiilaq… our home for the next two nights.
In the small harbour there was a largish, for this part of the world, orange-red boat. This, we were told, was the Court Boat. It visits once a year when anybody who has committed a crime is brought before a judge to answer for his, or her, misdemeanour(s). There is a jail on the other side of the island in Nuuk, the capital, 900km away. It would seem that September is the appropriate month to commit a crime as it will be 11 months before the ship calls again! However, Tasiilaq only has a population of 1930 (in 2010) so everybody knows what everybody else is doing, therefore nobody is game to put a foot out of place.
We stayed in the Hotel Angmagssalik, a long low, deep blue-painted, wooden building which is stretched across one of the hills that back the all important port. A hotel vehicle met us to take us, and our bags, up the steep hill to our lodgings. We were given our room keys, and had time to dump our bags before there was a walking tour of the town.
Our first stop in Tasiilaq was up to the local museum – we only just made it as it closed within the half hour. It’s a quaint place set up in the town’s first church. Various artefacts, photos etc. make up the displays.
Out the front of the museum is a reconstructed semi-buried house of the kind that was in use up until around 30-40 years ago. It is constructed of timber and has a sod roof. This ‘display’ home is about 5-6m square and would accommodate around four families, maybe 25 individuals, in very primitive conditions. Cooking, and the melting of snow for water, was done with whale oil, which also provided the lighting. Each family group would have their own cooking place. The whole family slept on a raised platform, the underneath being used for storage. Seal skins were used for blankets. There were sheets of newspaper stuck to the walls which was said to help with insulation. Just how much benefit a sheet of newspaper would be in a frozen climate where the sea freezes over for around 6 months of the year beggars the imagination! I’m afraid I enjoy our under-floor heating and other mod-cons. Of course, now the locals here do to! They live in well heated timber house that are brought in flat-packed from Denmark.
However, there is no sewerage system except for the ‘honey’ cart that comes around up to three times a week depending on how much you are prepared to pay and that perhaps also depends on, I guess, how big your family is!
Also outside the museum are three small canon. These still work and are fired on three occasions each year. The first firing takes place when the first supply ship arrives after the long winter when the sea is frozen over, the second firing takes place on the National Day (21 June) and the last firing for the year takes place as the last ship for the season leaves.
There are two supermarkets, both owned by the same company. These sell everything, including rifles which were on display, albeit chained up, along side other household items. A twelve year old is entitled to own a gun as they are such a necessary part of one’s existence in this land (there is a dead polar bear on the outskirts of town). There are no banks but there are ATM’s in the supermarkets, a hospital, school, new church and a pizza shop that was opened last year when the community brought a guy out from Sardinia to run it. He’s since gone home, couldn’t stand the conditions (don’t blame him!), but the pizzas keep rolling out, made now by a local! There is to all intents and purposes no employment in town. Subsistence hunting, mainly seals, keeps the community going. Tourism numbers are steadily growing.
There are huskies everywhere, with all but the youngest chained up. Appears that once a dog reaches six months old it must be chained up, or it is shot. Every family needs numerous dogs as dog hauled sleighs are the usual way of getting around during the winter months.
There were a couple of covered up Skidoos. Of course, they are pretty much useless during the summer months. These can only be afforded by the wealthiest people in town, which includes in its ranks, the ‘honey’ cart man!
I had the horrible thought that these huskies would whine all night, but thankfully, it appears we are not near a full moon. However last night the sun set at 20h01, with a long twilight that followed. The blessed thing got back up at the ungodly hour of 03h04, and we are nearly 2 months passed the summer solstice..
A couple of the group joined me after dinner for a walk up the Valley of Flowers. And, yes, there were many flowers, especially harebells. I had never seen a carpet of harebells before . Usually we get excited when we see a small group. Here there were hundreds..
We walked for a couple of kilometres up the valley to a small lake, so still and peaceful in the evening light.
On our way we passed the town cemetery complete with plain white wooden crosses and loads of plastic flowers. The degree of fading obviously indicated how long ago the dearly departed, departed.
There were some nice patches of wild flowers as well. These cheered me up somewhat even when I didn’t know what they were. Any suggestions welcome!I did know this one – well named River Beauty as it is indeed a beautiful flower and I saw it growing near water. It’s other common name is Broad Leaved Willow Herb. J had asked me to look for this special northern Alchemilla with its deeply divided leaves and white leaf edges. I was pleased that I found it for her. She has a great affection for Alchemilla – this one a wild flower of northern climes. .
After our walk, it was time to fully inspect the spartan, but adequate rooms. I removed the ‘stuffing’ from the doona cover, a process I need to go through in every hotel. I opened the window as well, to make the room bearable. And then I explored the shower. At first glance, the plumbing could have been a trial, but the taps to the shower turned out to be quite simple to operate and very adequate. How nice that shower was, and sleep came quickly after a perfect day. D
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT © DY of jtdytravels