Day 2, Entry 1: Going to Greenland
I didn't sleep much last night, partly due to jet lag, and more likely due to my racing mind. It is a hard task to leave a life behind for three weeks, although I know I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do so. But it's not easy for me to leave my dog, my boyfriend, a job and the comforts of home. I would be lying if I said it doesn't create a fair amount of anxiety in my already anxious self.
Yesterday when Mike and Ethan arrived, I will admit that for a moment I felt sick to my stomach, because it suddenly dawned on me that this is really happening...I'm actually going to a place that I can't even point out on a map for two weeks. But this morning, as I checked things off of the loose ends list, I started to get really excited. It all began to feel fun, and I even enjoyed the process of hauling our 15 bags around. By the time we got to the airport for our flight to Greenland, I even began to feel like dancing to my music as I listened to my iPod. This doesn't happen often, so it is safe to say I'm psyched for this now.
Mike has been a great trip leader so far. His organizational skills are impressive and he has put my mind at ease about the trip the more we have talked about it. I am still apprehensive about some things, but I do feel like we are in good hands with Mike at the helm. Plus, he seems to have all sorts of connections in these random, far away places, which doesn't hurt when you are trying to move 15 bags a long distance. This morning, Mike put these connections to use and saved us tons of money on baggage fees by mentioning a particular name: Hans Christian.
As it turns out, there is this guy, Hans Christian, who is a surgeon in Greenland. Hans has saved or helped many people in the community, and he is well known where we are going. Mike is friends with Hans, and the guy is already well on his way to earning legendary status in our minds thanks to Mike's frequent references to him. Even though we were in Iceland, Mike managed to get a great deal on shipping our bags as freight thanks to his connection to Hans Christian. Now I am wondering if we will be so lucky as to meet this man, or if he will remain a mystery, a Kayser Soze of sorts. I can't decide which way I would rather have it turn out, but it definitely adds some humor and fun to the trip, not to mention incredible financial benefits.
Now we are on a little prop plane, seated In the second row, just behind a few of our bags in the front row. This would never fly in the states, but the Icelandic stewardess was very accommodating and let us put our bags in seats, under the condition that they wear their seat belts. So, our bags are flying in style, and safely at that. Soon we will land in Kulusuk, Greenland. From there we will take a helicopter to another small town, where we will spend the night. Then, in the morning, we will take a 20-hour boat ride to somewhere on the southeastern coast of Greenland. We aren't sure what the sea ice conditions will be, but hopefully we will end up in a fjord that is home to lots and lots of granite.
I'm feeling pretty lucky to be here now, and I'm eagerly anticipating seeing more new places over the next three weeks. Woooohoooooo Greenland here we come!!!!
Day 2, Entry 2: Hurdles
Today has been very interesting, frustrating, gorgeous, nerve racking, and so many other things. The trip was off to a smooth start up until about ten minutes after I finished writing entry 1. As we descended towards the airstrip in Kulusuk, Greenland, the pilot of the prop plane had to abort the first landing attempt. Needless to say, this got my blood pressure up. We managed to land on the gravel airstrip, but got stuck at the teeny tiny airport waiting for our helicopter. The weather wouldn't allow it to fly, so we were stranded. It was beautiful there, but due to the rain and the hope that we might fly at any time, we were stuck inside for the entire day.
We ended up in a hotel in Kulusuk since the helicopter never managed to make it to us. We were feeling antsy, so we geared up for the rain and headed out to explore the shores nearby.
Despite the rain and the frustration of being stuck, it felt incredible to run around in the boggy grass and enjoy the gorgeous views. I guess this is all part of it, and I'm doing my best to take it in stride.
Day 3: Forward Motion
We awoke early Wednesday morning and snuck in our chopper ride just before the fog descended again. The short trip to Taliisaq was absolutely gorgeous.
Upon our arrival in the quaint little town of Tasiilaq, we were treated to a lovely breakfast at the hotel in town thanks in part to Icelandic air, and partly thanks to the legendary Hans Christian. When the taxi driver questioned the free breakfast Icelandic air had promised us, Mike and the driver went into the ticket desk to straighten things out. A few minutes and one "Hans Christian" later, we were enjoying a lovely breakfast spread.
At this point it was beginning to seem like this man was most certainly larger than life. Mike assured us he was not, but Ethan brought up a good point when he noted that Hans Christian and Mike Libecki are never in the same room together.... ;)
And then, just as the legend of Hans Christian was on the verge of being embellished to epic proportions, we found ourselves at his house. In keeping with the trend of this man, his house is like something out of a fairy tale. It sits in a maze of colorful houses and has the most amazing view I think I've ever seen. Plus, it is decorated with pieces of animals I will likely never see in their living form: narwhals, polar bears and walruses.
So, we finally met the famous Hans Christian, and he was just about the nicest man ever. He certainly lived up to his legendary status, because within five minutes of arriving at his house, he had provided us with coffee, the most gorgeous view we could imagine, and a solution to a major problem we were facing. Due to unseasonably warm weather this year, our original southerly destination is unreachable. But, thanks to some photos Hans Christian has, we have found an alternate destination north of here. The photos look amazing, with huge walls and a giant talus field below that looks like it could be the home to some very nice (and big) boulders. We left Hans Christians's house with renewed psych an a plan to depart Thursday morning.
We spent the rest of the day waiting for 11 of our 15 bags to arrive, and exploring the town and the surrounding hills. This place is absolutely gorgeous, certainly high up on the list of amazing places I have seen.
After spending the day enjoying the amazing views and getting excited to leave, we hopes our bags would arrive so we could be on our way. Unfortunately we hit another hurdle when two of our bags went missing. But, thanks to Mike, who has been an amazing trip leader, the bags have been located and are en route to us.
So, we are leaving soon and I'm getting very excited. It has been a roller coaster for the past few days, and I've been trying my best to not be too anxious about moving and more conscientious about enjoying this place. It has already been an amazing experience and I think it is only going to get better from here.
Now, to the wilderness we go! Hopefully I will come back with reports of amazing boulders climbed, and at the very least I will come back with amazing stories and photos from this once in a lifetime trip.