Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Leg one of the year is officially over. I have just made the jump to Greenland (really only a few hours ago) and have moved in with the family that I will be staying with for the next two months. Thanks to a connection with a researcher who studied the same birds as I did in Norway, a local family in Ittoqqortoormiit (otherwise known as Scoresbysund) offered to let me stay with them. They are very nice people who have quite a few children. The mother is native Greenlandic and speaks mostly East Greenlandic, and the father is Danish who speaks a signficant amount of English.

While I do plan to finish updating on the Amundsen, I feel like I need to talk a little bit about everything that's happened over the past week. I apoligize in advance for this being a text-filled rather than photo-filled post. Getting off the ship on the 19th was a huge change. The Amundsen really became my home, especially considering that other than the Pomona dorms I am rarely anywhere for more than a week or so. It was very hard to say goodbye to the ship, not knowing when I would be there again, and knowing for certain that it would never be the same again. I spent the night in Kugluktuk, sleeping in a real bed - which felt amazing - and spending an extraordinary amount of money for very basic food (think $25 for a lunch of spaghetti, $40 for mashed potatoes and pork roast for dinner).

The next day I started my marathon airplane run for Iceland. It took five flights and two days, running from Kugluktuk to Yellowknife to Edmonton to Seattle to Boston and finally to Reykjavik. The first two flights I was with the other dozen people who had just got off the ship - some good friends, media and scientists. Then we had to say goodbye in Edmonton - that was hard, saying goodbye to everyone I've known for the past few months. Especially since after that I spent 6 hours sitting in the airport completely alone. By some biazarre twist the airport didn't have any flights between 12 and 6 am, so I was literally alone in the airport, too scared of being robbed to fall asleep on my luggage. The flights went off without a hitch until Boston, where I exited in terminal B but had to leave out of terminal E, inconvientiently on the opposite side of the airport.

Now, I don't mind hauling all my gear myself wherever it needs to go, but in this case I had to take a shuttle. If you remember how much luggage I have, there is no physical way to get on an off a shuttle with any kind of grace with that much stuff. The first bus that passed I had to run down the street after with my cart, ending up losing my balance and tumbling all of my luggage into the middle of the street. The lovely citizens of Boston simply stared. I finally got a bus to stop for me, and spent a paniced five minutes running back and forth from the curb to the bus with my luggage, certain that someone either on the bus or on the curb was rifling through my gear everytime I turned my back.

As it turns out, the bus was full of retired people leaving for a cruise. I ended up on the bus with a huge round of applause and a "I've never seen anyone move luggage that fast!" The Iceland Air check-in lady scolded me for having too much luggage, to which I responded with a blank stare. Security check-in went as normal, ie they opened all of my gear and gave me a pat-down search, because apparently I'm a threatening person.

Once in Iceland I was able to meet up with my cousin, who married a fellow out there. I spent a nice few days with her catching up on sleep and relaxing - got to see some of the Icelandic countryside as well (photos to come).

This brings us to today. Today, after a signficant amount of stress over my luggage, I left Iceland. Coming into Greenland was somehow one of the most incredible experiences of the trip so far. The plane was very small - maybe 15 of us onboard - and as we crossed the ocean between the two countries, I could look down and see massive icebergs spotting the water below. The first look at Greenland shows exactly what it is - huge and beautiful and intensely barren. It is all ice and rock. Seeing the icebergs in the ocean sparked something in me - reminded me what I'm doing out here. Not sure what that is, but something about being in a totally alien world thats so completely beautiful - and somewhat dangerous - is appealing to me.

It is significantly colder here.


Anonymous said...

So glad you are bolging again! Fantastic Photos! Loving it all.
Beautiful country.

Anonymous said...

About a month ago I was flying to Cali for a wedding and I had an early morning flight out of Edmonton and I spent all night there too. Hoping my stuff wouldn't get stolen. Sleeping fitfully, etc...

Anonymous said...

Laurel that is so intense. You're making me wish I was traveling. Fortunately Utah is beautiful, if in an entirely different (and less uncomfortable ;) way. Can't wait to catch up whenever we get a chance...