Monday, August 27, 2012

In Neqip Akia. Split By The Sea.

Thirty four hours later, we are still at sea, swinging on the waves that are just too big for our small, open and heavily loaded boat. During the night time were dragged by the wind and currents back and forth across our hiding enclave in Nekip Akia Fjord. 

In the morning, when Sila offered us a shot break  from storm, wind and rain, we succeeded to send an sms over our Irridium Extreme to those who may (or may not) still care for us, but we have not heard back from them. They may have not received our message, but we have used our chance, and we do not have the second one. Now we have to save our battery that is quickly melting down. The only way we can charge it is through a solar panel which in the absence of the sun is just a piece of extra weight. We have not seen sun for a long time, and we don’t know when we see it next.

There are many disadvantages of life on the shaky surface of an icy soup fiercely boiling under the gusts of 25-30 knots Arctic wind. But there are also advantages.  All of a sudden, you stop worrying. You stop assuming or getting mad when your assumptions fail. You stop making predictions. You stop playing god. Eventually, you turn into a human being, an Inuit. Your eyes open, you ears suddenly start to hear.  

Soaked to our bones, thirsty and sleepless, we are now ready to accept and adopt. But of course, we can’t give up on dreaming. And the time passes our dreams get wilder and wilder and sometimes the border between a dream and a reality simply disappears.

Dreams in the cold may be laconic and unpretentious but they are very colorful. All the beautiful things we once saw in life, now come back to us. 

And then suddenly, after 5 o’clock “tea”, Sila gives us a break. The storm miraculously calms down and we decide to take a chance and land. 

It is decided that Bertrand – as the youngest and fittest of us all –  will carry us one by one from the boat to the shore. If this mission turns out to be successful we will put up a tent on the beach where we will spend time till the storm fades out. 

Bertrand succeeds to transport all our valuable and not so valuable possessions on shore and then takes me onto his shoulders. He has to act quickly. This shuttling technique, no matter how simple it may look from aside, involves several dangers for the boat since the surface underneath the water constitutes the barricades of sharp stones. 

One big wave, one wrong calculation, one misstep, and things may go completely wrong. 

A big wave arrives unexpectedly and knocks down Bertrand. He collapses like a Chinese doll and pulls down his rider ( Ole Jorgen ). They are both in the water. A moment later they appear on the surface. It are trying to get on their feet while even bigger waves are coming.

The cold sea bath is just another experince that has been planned for us from above. Waders filled with freezing water are heavier than led and one must be trained as a circus acrobat to know how to get rid of them in a moment.

Beaten and visibly shaken both Bertrand and Ole Jorgen make it to the shore. Aalibarti laughs at their misfortune; this is a typical Greenlandic way to confront a disasaster, not even talking about a small confusion like this one. Of course, you can complain. Of course, you can scream, you can curse and be mad at yourself and  your circumstances. But getting mad will not make things easier. Aalibarti, who 40 years ago had spent many days adrift on a floe of ice alone in the darkest days of the polar night and was officially prounounced dead, knows it better than the most. And that’s why he now laughs so happily. We can hear his voice from afar through the roar of the wind. 

While Aalibarti keeps laughing, we discover the land. And it feels so good! We are anxious to explore the shore that looked so hospitable from our shaky boat. But at first, we need to dry our cloths.

But how to dry our completely soaked cloths under an almost non-stopping rain? We need to learn to do it “the Greenlandic way”. Ole Jorgen secures the rope  between 4 humangous boulders and by thus creates a giant drying machine that works better than any dryer in my building in Manhattan. In an hour or so, if the 25 m per second wind persists, everything will be dry. 

This is the world’s northernmost laundermaut. It is purely ecological. And here for the first time in two days we finally relax and think of the essentials. Drying the laundry is just another way to confront both one’s own greatness and insignificance. Life is good, Greenland is green, and somehow after a 36 hour torture we were able to find our paradise.

We don’t know for sure whether humans have ever landed here before us. But we know that polar bears are around, which means that we have to be on alert round o’clock.

This is how our new little home looks from the sea. One may not even notice a little green dot on otherwise barren shore and may not ever know that  there is life here too.

Time to botanize. It does not take us long to discover plenty of mushrooms, berries and seductively smelling herbs in our nearest “back-yard”. Most of them as we know can be eaten raw. The soil is soft and fertile; walking on it is similar to walking on a Persian carpet. We are thankful to the birds – the sole creators of this wonderful Green Land; tons of shit they leave behind after each season of nesting on these cliffs give us a possibility to survive the storm and enjoy life to its fullest. 

This is a vew from our window, and we feel that we are paying a fair price for enjoying it.

Some time after midnight we are saying good night to Aalibarti. He will be staying at sea with the boats, hopeful to hunt a narwhale somtime into the “dawn”, while three of us will share the tent. Separated by sea, we know that long night lies ahead of us.   

1 comment:

  1. Hello Galya!!!
    Wish you and your team all the best and after 3weeks without Internet I was reading your wonderful and very hard expedition!! You are all AMAZING!!!
    Big huges
    next time I come with you!!!