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Dead-calm on the way home from Diskofjord towards Kangârssuk                                                          © Water-colour by Ole Jacobi 1996
Back on the "Porsild", Elisabeth has made coffee for us. We drink the coffee and eat our cookies, enjoying them while we return to base.

Karen and I are tired, so we lie down in the bottom bunks of the cabin. Everything breathes peace, until they start shooting out on the foredeck. Greenlanders observe Nature more closely than we Danes, especially when it has to do with potential hunting opportunities. Thus it is Jørgen who cries: "seals ahead".

Now the group comes alive. Everybody has to come out and see what is happening. And quite right: there in front of us are seals' heads popping out of the surface. Guns crack, and the excitement of the hunt whets the appetite.

No seal today, though. After about two hours of hunting and many wasted shots, we give up and make for home. It is now close on 7, and there's a long way to go yet. The ice is reflected in the dead-calm of the water, upside-down on the smooth surface.

We make Jørgen call Leif Skytte to tell the students that the meeting at the school is postponed till 8.30.

There they all sit, waiting for us when we arrive at 8.45. The team from Skansen present their project, and Arne tells us what the next few days will bring.

Apparently, on request, supper has been boiled seal again to the delight of those who had not tasted it before. The teachers have had no supper, because we have been out sailing, so we go back to the Arctic Station after the meeting at the school where Keld makes us a lovely omelet with sausage instead of bacon. It's excellent!


Wednesday 14 August 1996

Elsebeth is 24 today. She has asked me whether she can go home two days early because of an operation she has been waiting for a long time. Now she has had a summons from the hospital for the 22 August. I've faxed the travel agency, and this morning they call up to tell me that it's all right. That's a nice birthday present. Leif Skytte has run up the swallow-tailed flag carried by the Arctic Station.

Sven cannot go sailing with his team today. Leif says there's too much wind. And what do you do then? You cannot hire a car or jump on a train in Greenland. Nor can you take the bus to the nearest town. You have to adapt to Nature, it sets the conditions and the limits of your existence.

I overhear a conversation between Leif and Sven, it goes something like this:

Leif: "You won't go sailing today."
Sven: "Why not? Is there too much wind or what?
Leif: "The weather."
Sven: "Yes, I can see there's a strong wind right now, but isn't it possible that the weather will change?"
Leif: "Yes".

End of conversation. There's a small smile - on both their faces.

I take a walk up to the municipality to check on the appointment we have today at 2 with the mayor, Augusta Salling. She receives me very kindly, and says she expects us in the meeting room and that everything is OK. She tells me that she had had her fears about how the community would handle having 37 young people around town, but she has already noticed that the students are either sailing on the "Porsild" or rushing around the countryside, uphill and downhill, measuring and investigating. They are not running around town. Augusta Salling also tells me that when she was talking with her family the other day over the VHF radio telephone, she kept hearing somebody called Jesper calling "5-4-3-2 1-now!" She had by accident chosen the same VHF-channel as the survey team.

Then I walk over to the school to meet the new principal, Kim Bach. I want to enquire whether they are satisfied with the arrangement we have for holding the evening classes at the school. No problems here either.

The day's shopping is done, and at 2 , 17 of us turn up at the mayor's. The deputy mayor, Peter Wille, is also present.

Augusta Salling starts out with bidding us welcome. Then she puts a question to the room: "Who is Jesper?" Jesper puts up his hand, a little hesitantly. "Hello, Jesper", says Augusta Salling, and proceeds with the story about the VHF-channel.

We get a very interesting talk about the municipality - about this and that, sorrows, worries and joys. We also get the legend that the island of Disko was once towed from south Greenland to the north by two kayaks. They pulled it by a baby's hair. The hair was conjured into a tow line. On the northern side of the island you can still see the hole to which the tow line was fastened. When the kayaks arrived here, they were tired of rowing and left the island right there. Arne suggests that the geology proves the legend cannot be true, which pleases the mayor. The island has always belonged here.

Some of the girls go out with Arne to look at their drinking water project. They sit down somewhere for a short rest. "Now we're going to look at whales", Arne says. And they do, they actually see some whales! I haven't seen any yet, so of course I don't believe their story.

We have breaded halibut with potatoes and parsley sauce for supper.

At the school, at 8, Mia and Katerina talk about their drinking water project. Arne finishes off by reading us a Greenlandic fairy tale about "the woman who married a shrimp". One of the traditional stories from ancient times, a monotonous story with no real point. A story that makes you wonderfully sleepy.
 
 


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