By boat in Greenland

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Manu | 7 June 2016 | 2 comments
icebergs, greenland

Majestic Icebergs

Greenland, the biggest island in the world, has a population of barely 57000 people, widely sparse on its massive empty frozen surface. There are no roads connecting the tiny villages where Greenlandic people live. The only way to move around is by plane, helicopter, boat, or, in winter and for shorter distances, by dog sledging or snowmobiles. Said like that, it seems an easy life, but experienced in the daily routine and with the Greenlandic moody weather, it is very different and every trip, even the shortest, becomes an adventure and a fight to stay alive.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

Haldora, who shared the journey with me

I experienced a boat trip in Greenland few days ago. Destination Tasiilaq, the village on the other side of the bay, 24 kms away by land and about 45 minutes by boat from Kulusuk. A piece of cake in optimal conditions, quite adventure in the Arctic.

I don’t think I have ever been more scared in life than the other day on that boat to Tasiilaq.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

Kulusuk in the fog looks like a village at the end of the world

The weather was foggy, the visibility on the land was less than 100 meters, and it became less and foggier and foggier the more we entered in the deep waters. Looking at Kulusuk disappearing in the fog was something almost emotional. The village slowly got hidden by the clouds like if it had never existed before and in few minutes we were in the middle of the ocean, in the fog, surrounded by nothing than icebergs.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

As soon as Kulusuk disappeared behind us, we found ourselves wrapped in the deep fog of the ocean. This was literally all we could see around

The atmosphere was like in those fantasy movies where the main characters find themselves lost in the middle of an adventure. Despite the fact you couldn’t see almost anything, the heart started to bit faster. It was a mix of fear and excitement.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

Desolated waters and zero visibility

The boat was going fast between huge pieces of icebergs on both sides. They appeared all of a sudden from the fog, right in front of us and we were sliding next to them almost on the last minute. The fear was about what could have appeared in that fog and if we were fast enough to avoid it. Miki, the Greenlandic guy who was driving, is a master in driving a boat. He does boat tours for Hotel Kulusuk and he is someone who perfectly knows his job. He was super concentrated in making sure we didn’t get too closer to any iceberg and drove the boat with the ability of a master. We all knew we were in good hands, but there is nothing you can do to control a feeling that is part of the human being, especially in an environment so different form yours.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

You can see in my eyes how scared I was on that boat

The fear you get is the primordial fear of the unknown, the undiscovered, the risky. It has to do with us as human beings. These people are used to this fear. They fight it every time they go on a boat and challenge the sea to get to destination. It is really impressive and it makes you gain so much respect for them.

Greenland, boats, transports

Boat is one of the most common mean of transportation for Greenlandic people

For Greenlandic people the sea is a source of life instead of death. These two concepts co-exist together in a balance that is where Life is built on. In Kulusuk the old cemetery is built on a hill straight on the sea; it was believed, infact, that after death people went to the bottom of the sea, the source of food and life, rather than to the sky, which was where rain and snow comes from. The sea is also the easiest mean of transport there is here. So much more simple to cross the sea rather than driving the dogs for days. It is in this view point you have to see the connection that there is between Greenlandic people and the water. Certainly the sea is also a massive killer, as from its abyss it can come death, no wonder stories and legends of sea monsters are typical of these latitudes, but for them this is the risk they have to run to stay alive anyway.

Greenland Inits, hunting seals

Even in the bad weather and rough waters Greenlandic people go out at sea to fish or hunt

I was scared on that boat the other day. I felt like anything could have happened and even the safety precautions like a life vest looked pretty useless in the Arctic sea, where if anything happens you would probably freeze in less than a minute. Despite this, the fear didn’t stop me from enjoying the landscape and the adventure. Actually it made it become even more stunning, and at every jump of the boat on the frozen ice on the ocean, I was breathing deeply fear and wonder at the same time. Nowhere you will ever see and feel so much beauty like on those semi frozen lands. The breath was getting frozen in my lungs and the emotions were stacked inside. I was keeping fighting with both my emotions while fear and wonder were taking over. I was keeping fighting with the cold, too. The cold that freeze your eyes and makes them cry while your hands get numb trying to capture all that beauty with the camera.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

When the fog disappeared, wonders of the sea came out in the shining sun: icebergs

My_1st_impressions_ Greenland boat trip-10

The rough sea we found when the fog disappeared was an extra to the adventure. A local guy said it is uncommon, as usually the ice helps to keep the water calm, but in the part of ocean where the ice had already melt, the waters were rough and Miki was fighting to keep the boat under control. Noone was talking on this trip. It is not the kind of trip you wow at every sight. We all kept our wows inside, trying to help Miki to focus with our silence.

Icebergs, Greenland

His majesty, the Iceberg

On the way back it was the same. The only difference was the tiny radio that was on. When “Redempion Song” by Bob Marley came out, a reggae song I listened to millions of times back in Mexico and Jamaica, usually associated to other lands, temperatures, landscapes and vibes, a reggae song symbol of other cultures and lands, I listened to it as a sign and started to sing it in my mind, to distract myself from the fear. The song slowly took over my bad feelings and relaxed my mind. It helped to make me see myself and my life from the outside as it is, in the middle of one of the biggest adventures of my life. That song of freedom freed my mind by the fear. I decided to live this great experience here in Greenland as it is, as a great outdoor adventure in one of the wildest places in the world.

icebergs, greenland, Kulusuk

Greenland shining in all its beauty

The Nature here is massive, wild, unknown. It surrounds you and makes you feel small, but also lucky to be alive to experiencing it. It is raw, no human has touched or altered it yet. It floats on the water and if you can respect it and treat it with care you will have the chance to experience one of the most scary but stunning moments of your life. Nature here is alive.. you feel it around you, moving, breathing, living. You feel the vibes, the energy. It is not contaminated yet by humans. Human presence is so vulnerable on those lands that it doesn’t really impact the force of Mother Nature. These people have lived here for thousands years adapting to the Nature around rather than fighting or trying to change it. That is the only way they managed to survive it, despite everything. That is the only way to learn to live it and understand this world, and feel part of it.

Tasiillaq, East Greenland

The sun shining on Tasiillaq on out arrival

The sun shining on Tasiillaq and its colored small houses, at the end of the journey were a sign of the renewed joy of finding the new land and life again. There can be sun shining behind the fog. Even in Greenland.

Inuits, Greenland

Miki, the Greenlandic boy who drove us safe and sound on the sea of Greenland.

Bob Marley’s music on that boat surrounded by icebergs around made me think we all have our way to redemption. Mine has probably nothing to do with the inner peace but rather with the inner freedom and yesterday, out there, I felt I had finally found my song of Freedom.


Boat trip in Greenland!


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