We took a short crash course tonight in Greenlandic: in this language there are only 20 letters and three vowels…and a sound that is common for two L’s is sort of like the sound someone with a lisp makes. Greenland is fantastic: The food has been first rate, fresh fish, reindeer steaks, lots of yogurt and the people are warm and inviting. The scenery amazes, it is that crystal clear sky and the dramatic icebergs..and not a tree to be found anywhere. Kids slide on sleds and people walk everywhere, there are no roads to take with the rugged fjords creating barriers.
The houses here in Sisimiut are all built on stilts, many on the tops of rocks. This town of about 5,000 is located 300 km south of where we were the past two nights, Ilulussat, so this harbor never freezes. Still, supplies are all brought in by container ship, and the biggest employer is Royal Greenland shrimp processing.
Halibut in staggering quantities is harvested by men in open boats using very long lines. We watched in subzero weather two fisherman wind up their lines and pull fish after fish off big hooks. In one boat there was a rifle, in case a seal pops up they would blast it and bring it home. That’s the favorite food here, along with reindeer.
Greenland’s dogs are ubiquitous–yipping, yapping, white creatures chained up on hillsides. Every hillside or open field has dogs with no doghouses…we were told that they would not go in them, they prefer the open cold. They also never are allowed loose, they try to fight one another. Only puppies roam free. There are 1700 dogs in this town and they are used to pull sledges, and instead of dogs in a line, they fan out to create a very wide side by side stride. We went out into a field and took turns being pulled on the sledges. The driver gets up a head of steam and then runs furiously ahead and jumps on the front of the sledge.
People here speak Greenlandic, and Danish, and most of them speak English too. I ran into a couple who used to live in Montague, just about six months ago they moved here. Funny thing to see somebody up here who knows just exactly where I live in South Deerfield!