Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday, September 21

Our peaceful slumber ends abruptly about 6:30AM as we pass out of the calm waters of the fjord into the open ocean! We are almost thrown from our bed and the wind starts howling around the door jam. WOW! Looks like no port today! We get dressed and head up to the Observation Lounge to watch the wave action! The ship is leaning and rolling;

we wonder what Plan B is? We can see the waves breaking on the small rocky islands on either side of us as the ship pitches with the waves. The clouds are low and dark with intermittent rain. Fortunately there is tea, coffee and Danish out so Carolyn has something to eat. About 8AM the Captain apologies for announcing into the cabins, but tells everyone that we will be making a hard 90 degree turn into the channel that will take us to the harbor. This will happen in about 5 minutes so everyone needs to take a seat where ever they are. Then we will see what the conditions are like. Five minutes later, we heel hard to the left as we turn on a dime!
The ship heads between two low lying rocks and we can now see Nanortalik almost dead ahead.

The water becomes calmer as the ship moves into the protected waters. In a few minutes the Captain announces that the tenders are being lowered and he will tells us when we can go ashore. Great save! We head to breakfast and by the time we get back to the room the ship has been cleared and the tenders are running. We are advised to dress warmly as it is about 42 degrees with a wind chill of about 31degrees....brrrrrr!

We get ourselves bundled up and with cameras in hand we head to the tenders on deck three aft. There is a good chop to the water from the wind so boarding is a little hazardous...there are two men on the platform handing the passengers off to two men in the tender, one of whom helps most people including Carolyn, down to a seat, so it takes awhile to load the 60 or so people. We are the second, maybe third tender to leave the ship. The tender docks at a small floating dock right in the middle of the town. The tourist center is right by the dock and there are some local children on the dock shyly watching us as we watch them.

Everyone makes a bee line to the information office. They have tickets for three events being put on by the locals during the day...a choral performance at the church for $10pp at 11AM and two dance shows for $15pp at the cultural center in the afternoon. There is also an open-air, living museum over by the church that consists of the original town built around the old harbor.  It is $5pp at the entrance. We decide to do that as Carolyn read that it was really worthwhile. They will also take euros, dollars and Danish Kroner, the currency of Greenland. Right behind the ticket office is a tourist center with souvenirs and local crafts for sale. Here they also take credit cards. We do some shopping..Jack gets a pin, Dick gets a beautiful polar bear claw and ivory necklace and Carolyn adds a finely made basket to her collection.

We are in the new part of town so we walk along the main road seeing the homes

and the new harbor area.

There is a fish market open and we peek in. The tables are covered with fresh cut up whale meat for sale.
A small boy comes up to us and wants to talk. In a couple of minutes a man comes over and introduces himself as the local science teacher and tells us the young man is one of his best students and is in the 8th grade! The child is about the size our 8 year old grandson! We have a nice talk with the teacher...he is Danish and has been teaching in Greenland in different towns for 5 years. The government pays all his living and transportation expenses. He tells us there are about 250 children in the school which he points out up the hill. Children from nearby villages, like the one we passed yesterday, board at the school also. We say our goodbyes and thank him for visiting with us.

Our next stop is the grocery store. The man at the information center had told someone who asked about a grocery that there is one, but the stock is really low due to the recent storms. The supply ships have not been able to dock. We go in and look around.

Sure enough there are many empty bins especially for the fresh things. It looks like our stores when a hurricane is on the way!

We walk on over to the church, which was built in 1916,

and then to the museum.

This is actually the original part of town, with buildings dating back to the 1830's,

that is being maintained to show how the people lived in such a harsh climate. There is a furnished sod and rock house that was lived in until the 1960's

along with various stone buildings that were the business center of the town, the bakery, stables and whale oil making shop. The people manufactured train oil from the whales. The daily life revolved around the sea as you would expect. These are hardy people! In one of the houses there is a clothing display...the native costume is very interesting.

It is made from fur and wool and lots of lace, embroidery and deep bead-work collars. We actually see a young woman leaving the church in the native costume.

By now we are freezing. The wind is getting stronger and it is cutting right through our clothes. We have been walking around now for over three hours and are ready to go back to the ship.

A last stop at the tourist center to pick up some earrings Carolyn has decided she can’t live without then on to the tender that just arrived.

It is 2PM when we get back to the ship. We are cold and hungry so we order two cheeseburgers from room service and get hot showers while we wait. The afternoon is spent reading and working on our pictures.

Sail away is at 6PM. After this morning’s rocking and rolling and the wind we have had all day, we are not really looking forward to leaving our protected harbor! Sure enough, we start pitching and rolling with a vengeance as soon as we clear the narrow channel opening. It’s going to be another rough night!

We have an invitation to join entertainers Clare and Robert for dinner at 7:30PM. The ship is really moving by dinner time and the dining room is noticeably empty. We have a couple of big hits that send the tableware dancing and the stacks of china on the service counters flying about. This is not a night to be a waiter, but no one gets a lap full of food and we have a pleasant evening.

We could use bed belts, but are soon asleep and manage to stay in the bed without them.

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