Instructors Note: We have read and seen Kiplings The Man who would be King, which, despite its faults, can be viewed as an invitation to high adventure. The next question that then comes to mind is: Is genuine adventure still possible in todays over-mechanized, televised, polluted world? In some ways, the answer is of course NO. No one nowadays can "rough it" the way Mark Twain or David Thoreau could in the 19th century. But a taste of adventure, and an escape from 9 to 5 drudgery, may still be possible.
Anyway, here is a letter Ive just got from an Australian friend who has been sauntering in Greenland for the past year or so. Read it and judge for yourself:
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2002 23:20:49 +0100 (BST)
From: johnny mmm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ....still alive....
To: Moti Nissani <email@example.com>
I got back to the civilised part of the world about two weeks ago. There was one short letter from you telling me of your plans to tour the world for a little while. Of course I wish you the very best.
And as for myself, well I am still in Greenland. I realise that you do not know this part of the world too well, but I will explain where my last journey went. At the end of February/beginning of March, two of us left a community called Aasiaat. This town is on the west coast of Greenland (68 degrees, 45 minutes north latitude and roughly 52 degrees 50 minutes west longitude). We skied and pulled our pulkas towards the north. We almost got as far as a little place called Sondre Upernavik (again roughly, 72 degrees 30 minutes north and 55 degrees 35 minutes west). Because of bad sea ice conditions, we had to turn back about 50 kilometres before the community. Total distance skied was approximately 750 kilometres. I have to say that it was a most excellent trip. Wonderful people we always did meet. And the temperatures, there was about a week of minus 30s, with the coldest being minus 35, but for the most part, temperatures were in the mid minus 25s degrees Celsius. And accommodation; about 70 percent of the time was spent sleeping in the tent (North Face-VE 25), and the rest was split up sleeping in the homes of people we met on the way, or in the various hunters and fishermens huts that are scattered along the way. We both got a little touch of frost bite, especially on the face, but nothing serious and nothing permanent (I think).
There seems to be so many things and experiences I would like to talk about, but it does seem hard to just write them down in words alone. I still like Greenland very much. It is still a country where for the most part, common sense rules. The only time it does not work is when the bureaucracy wants to get involved. But then again, that is the same all over the world.
I think I have tasted and eaten almost everything that Greenland has to offerseals, whales, all kinds of birds and fish, some have been nice to try, and other times, a little sad, especially when about 20 Orcas were hunted and killed in Aasiaat last January/February. But I have to remember that I am only an observer in my life as a traveller.
Another sad part of this, they took tissue samples of the Orcas killed, tested the samples and discovered that they were all contaminated with heavy metals. The contamination of course came from the world outside Greenland. Even though the world criticized Greenland for the slaughter, those that pointed their fingers were in a way just as guilty, poisoning the Orcas with their quest for a so-called better world. . Another sad fact, Greenlandic people live quite close to nature, and depend heavily on what it has to offer as far as food on the table goes. But studies have shown that Greenlanders of Central West Greenland have the highest concentration of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) compared with both the rest of the Arctic regions and the rest of the Industrialized world. This is because these people depend so heavily on food from the sea, consuming much more than people from most other parts of the world.
On a much happier note. This next part could only happen in Greenland. We had purchased a boat for our last summers venture. Last Wednesday we put up the "For Sale" notice. On Friday, an Inuit contacts the person whose phone number we had to use as the go between. He asks about the condition of the boat etc. He then asks if his name could be put on the top of the list with the option to buy. He says he was unavailable until Monday morning. On Monday, Thomas (who is the owner of the phone number) takes us to meet the Inuit. The Inuit then asks Thomas again if the boat is in good condition, is the motor OK etc and what comes with the boat. After all the questions are answered, he says "let us go to the post office", which is also an agent for the Greenlandic bank. He then withdraws the amount we asked for, gives us the money, and then asks "could you tell me where the boat is please?" Only in Greenland. He never asked for a test run of the boat or the outboard motor. Our feeling was though that he had seen the boat, and he knew that we had taken good care of it. But it would not happen anywhere else.
Thats it from me for the moment Moti, I hope to hear from you soon. Sorry about the long delay with keeping in touch. I hope all is well with everyone, including Lucy. Best regards from the land of the midnight sun ..