Narsarsuaq, Greenland! Land of blue ice, glaciers, fjords, green mountains, wildflowers of pink, yellow, white and purple…..And now it is also known to be a land of giant swarms of mosquitos, impervious to the wind and anxious to enter every nostril, ear, mouth and eye that has entered their territory!
I think I am in love with the wildness, the remoteness, the hostel full of scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Bristol, the two women who remind me of Hope, who is 85, trekking in search of wildflowers, the two men who stay outside in a tent, make necklaces and speak Spanish, the strange ceremony we witnessed on the first night involving a man with a cardboard sword and many medals, and yes, even the extremely expensive grocery store full of frozen and canned goods, with its secret room full of wilting fresh vegetables that almost requires a password to get into.
The hike to the “parking lot” on a paved road is 3 kilometers from the hostel. Then a walk on gravel, mud and rocks to the base of the “hill” is another 4 kilometers, and at one point involves leaping from rock to rock to get across the stream, brook, river (depending on the time of year) to continue the journey. You must go 300 meters in height up a slope steep enough to have 2 inch diameter blue rope permanently attached as a helper at various points, and then down the other side another 300 meters, 4 more kilometers total, to get to the actual Kuussup Sermia Glacier. Then you must turn around and do it all over again to get back to your bed.
The rumor is that rain is coming tomorrow, with high wind and the possibility that one of our group will miss a flight to Iceland, causing a missed flight to NY, causing a missed flight to Michigan. Sometimes the trip insurance is worth the purchase price, as is the raincoat for the camera, even if it is funny looking.
At two of the dining room tables in the hostel, and in one of the bedrooms for four, glacial water is seen dripping through filters, beeping noises are heard, reminding me of a hospital room at night. The engineers and scientists talk about how they missed the first steps of a daughter, two years after missing the first steps of a son, or how one is the husband in Michigan of a wife in Illinois – both post-docs on a career path and hoping that one day they will both work in one place. The Danish language is mixed in with the American slang and the British inflections, the humans all waiting for the sun to go down for the three hours before the light comes back in full force….