Ahoy, icebergs!

Tags: Lori Majewski

First icebergs

It appears that virtually none of us aboard the Grigoriy Mikheev are early risers, so Cape Farewell captain David Buckland made sure to inject his 7 a.m. wake-up announcement with a little info that he knew would have his troops on their feet in a heartbeat. “If you look outside of your window,” he began, “you’ll see a pretty big iceberg.” Minutes later, the cafeteria was abuzz with the din of excited artists and scientists getting their morning tea and coffee before boarding the zodiac rafts for shore. It was the first time any of us had set foot on dry land since Friday.

Disko Island, a colorful Greenland settlement about halfway up the country’s west coast, is home to roughly 300 people. We saw a few of the locals during a Lutheran church mass, but on this island, humans seemed to be outnumbered by the gangs of chained-up huskies and their high-pitched whining. Honestly, it sounded like they were putting out a mating call to seals.

We did see some seals — pieces of seals, anyway. Their headless bodies were hung out to dry on a wooden laundry line in preparation for their new roles as dinner. I also spied a lone Arctic hare hanging off the side of someone’s porch; he was so beautiful and snowy-white.

As a vegetarian, I have a saying: I eat nothing with eyes but potatoes. So you’d think I’d find these scenes of animals-as-future-meals quite horrifying. However, given the surroundings — there was not a mega chain supermarket in sight — I found myself accepting, even respecting, the Diskos’ carnivorous way of life.


Huskies surround the town of Godhavn. Photo: Nathan Gallagher

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be eating a seal sandwich anytime soon. And I was truly disgusted when our group glimpsed a freshly killed reindeer in the back of a hunter’s truck the other day. But the Diskos seem to have it right when it comes to that eco-rule about knowing where your meal comes from — even better if it’s your back yard.

My favorite part of the island was its black beach of volcanic sand, which was the perfect canvas for the small, medium and large chunks of iceberg that had washed up on it. Beyond the shoreline was some of the most breathtaking icebergs; not that I’d know the difference, since the only time I’d seen any others was from the plane en route from Iceland. Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and hail them as quite special. Nature’s works of art, the bergs appeared purposely shaped by the wind and water to resemble, among other things, a teepee, a chaise lounge, a seal, and a polar bear.

As I headed for the Zodiacs to take us back to the Mikheev, I couldn’t take my eyes off of these gigantic ice sculptures. With the temperature quite mild — probably around 32-degrees Fahrenheit, I imagined how much bigger they must have been a decade ago, and how much smaller they will be 10 years on. If they’ll even be there at all.

Addendum: Happy 40th anniversary Mom and Dad (a.k.a. JoJo and John). Love, Lori

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    One Comment

    1. Ralph

      Posted Wednesday 1 Oct at 18:52 | Permalink

      Great report and an unbelievable picture of those icebergs. Can’t believe 300 people live up there. I would have done the Gilligan’s Island thing and wrote out “SOS” in rocks and hoped someone would have found me. Stay warm and keep the reports coming.