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July 29, 2005

Full Day in Kanger

The flight to Kanger was apparently spectacular. “Every once in the while, the Arctic gives us this rare treat,” Ron said. He took over 200 pictures. Darren, on one side of me, took a bunch of pictures, too, as I think did Quintin, on the other side of me. I slept. The whole time. I woke up once and saw people milling about, but no one looking particularly fascinated by the view (only a few windows, remember—C-130), so went back to sleep. “You didn’t get up AT ALL?” Darren and Quintin asked. You guys didn’t wake me up! I accused. “I figured I’ve woken you up enough times the past three weeks…” Quintin said. As my friend Matt Gillett would say, Nobody loves a smart-ass.

I was greeted at the tarmac by three very familiar faces from Antarctica. I was ecstatic to get great hugs from Kelly, Burmy, and Commander. It was a funny mix of families--my new Thule family and my old Antarctic family, all in one place.

The first evening was mellow. I sat outside and listened to Commander play guitar and Burmy play violin, and went with Darren for a short stint to the Roost, the Air National Guard bar.

The next day, Friday, was our big Kanger day. We started with a hike out to some fences. Well, that's what us geology-types said. The biologist would probably say we hiked to some ecological study areas.


[Plants along the way.]

[Caribou skull.]

After the trip to the fences, we made time for a quick jaunt to the icecap. This was by far one of the highlights of the trip. Apologies for the funky photo sizes--I messed up a little here on the importing. I don't know what was more fun and beautiful--the drive or walking around on the ice. I guess it doesn't matter. The whole outing was great.


[Trina in a new world.]


[Transportation, Greenland style. Jolene for scale.]

After such a great day, and it being our last night in Greenland, and our last night together as a group, we had to do something. So we went for a beer in the closest bar. We could tell it was a bar because there was a paper sign taped onto the open door that said "BAR."

To our delight, it was happy hour. This was quite significant, since it dropped beer prices down from $7/bottle to $4/bottle. We were going to have one beer. But then I decided to buy a round, especially since I owed Erik a beer from Thule. But they wouldn't take my card, and I had no cash. Arlie arrived with thirst and some money. It was just after 8, which we assumed was when happy hour ended. We tried to convince her to go bat her eyelashes and ask innocently if it was still happy hour, but she wouldn't do it alone. So I went with her. "Not happy hour anymore," said the bartender, "but that man wants to buy you a beer." He gestured to a man at a table beside us. We were skeptical. "Six beers," the bartender clarified. Six? "For the women?" Arlie and Trina asked. "No," said the bartender, "for that table." He pointed to the table Arlie and I had been sitting at, where Erik and Darren and Quintin waited thirstily. No danger in that, it seemed. So why not. We chose our beer and took it back to the table. "What?" said Darren, back at the table. "We should refuse this. Don't drink that." Quintin and Erik's reaction was a little different. "Really?" they said, when we explained what had happened. "Cool." And took a swig.

The man, I think, bought a round for the other table, too, made up of the rest of our group. After a bit, the bartender called us to attention. He was standing outside of the bar with the man who had bought us the drinks. Both men looked Greenlandic--the bartender tall and somewhat big, and the other man small and older. The older man made a speech, which the bartender translated. The speech went something like: I am very happy to see such a happy group coming in to this place. You all came in very happy. We are Greenlandic people, we are from here, and we can see that you are happy with us. and that makes me happy. And we like to be happy. And... Yeah, somewhere in there I probably lost the exact wording, but there was a lot of happiness expressed. We were happy, too. We all happily raised the beers he had bought us and said, "Skol!"

We had also befriended another local: (H)Ellen. We could never figure out whether her name was Helen or Ellen, but it was easy to figure out that she was friendly. It was even easier to find out that she had taken a liking to Erik. "Is he your boyfriend?" she asked me, pointing to him. I wasn't sure at the time whether she was thinking of hitting on me or on him, and either way I knew I should have said yes, but I told the truth. I don't know what posessed me. "No," I said. "Why not?" she asked. "He has a girlfriend," I said. She looked disappointed. "A very serious girlfriend," I added. "He's almost married. They're engaged, actually." "Oh," she said. "I like him. He's a good guy. How old is he?" "Twenty-eight," I said. She looked surprised. "Really?" she said. "So young?" Yes, I said. He doesn't seem that young, she said. No, he doesn't look that young, I said, but when you talk to him you can tell. He's very immature.

I tried.

(H)Ellen was still very interested in Erik. Later, when I was talking to Erik, Quintin interrupted us from my other side, leaning over to ask Erik if he would sit by (H)Ellen. She was on Quintin's other side, requesting. Erik declined, and Quintin relayed the message. He interrupted us again a moment later. "She wants to know if she can have a kiss," Quintin said. "What?" exclaimed Erik. He definately was not interested. "How about for a hundred dollars?" I asked. "How about for a round of beer for everyone?" Quintin asked. Quintin's a thinker. Erik declined, again. I thought he cared about us, but after three weeks I come to learn that Erik's just not a team player.

Soon after, a man took the stage with a keyboard and a microphone. He played accordian music, guitar, piano, drums, and who knows what else. On the keyboard. He sang along. He did both very loudly. We refrained from leaving right away, not wanting to seem rude. I think we stuck it out for two songs. Then, Erik, Arlie, Quintin, Darren, and I were off on a mission: To find Greenlandic coffee.

We went to the restaurant-bar where we'd had our pizza feed the first night. The same man was there running the place, and while Erik, Quintin, and Arlie ordered the coffees from him, Darren and I staked out territory in a cozy corner with leather couches and low lighting and a caribou head mounted on the wall. Erik came over shortly. We need your twenty, he told Darren. What? Turns out the drinks were $12 each. Yikes! Better be good, we said.

The others joined us and enjoyed the leather couches until the owner came over with the drinks.

A shot of whiskey, a shot of Bailey's, and coffee. Whipped cream on top. Beautiful.

At the table, the owner heated up a ladle over a flame. He dipped the ladle into Gran Marnier. He lit the Gran Marnier in the ladle and poured it, raising the ladle up high off the glass, as a stream of blue flame into the drink. He did this separately for each drink. We loved it.

The Greenlandic coffee was the perfect night-cap. Quintin loved it so much he managed to nurse it for about an hour. The drinks there are expensive enough that it pays to nurse. Another wave of our group came in to get the coffees, which of course came highly recommended. However, the owner said he had made a mistake, and that the drink was actually $20. Double yikes! Glad we got in when we did.

After the party was over, I organized GPS equipment, with help from Erik and Quintin. When I finally went to bed, I could hear that second wave of our group just coming home.

Posted by beth at July 29, 2005 1:43 AM


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