The Outgoing

My original intention was to spend one day and night in Kangerlussuaq when leaving Greenland; I missed out on it the last time I was leaving and wanted to see it now. I'd booked a room in charmingly frontier-sounding Old Camp but, and I will quote this again: man plans, Greenland laughs.

The morning of my flight was fine: I made it to the plane okay and again met a few of the Finnish artists who were also flying out. But as we approached Kangerlussuaq, a big cloud of fog descended upon us and we were stuck. You know you're a little bit screwed when the landing gear first comes out of the airplane and after a few minutes goes back in. Bad weather for flying is nothing new in Greenland but usually Kangerlussuaq is the place where the weather is the most predictable and usually very clear too. I think they get only a handful of cloudy days per year there. We were so lucky to get one!

So we circled around a little while and eventually had to turn back to Nuuk. Luckily we were one of the earliest planes that day so when me and the other Finns rushed out from the plane (that's how you spot Finns: we're notoriously bad at standing in queue and will do anything to avoid it) we got the first vouchers for a free hotel room in Nuuk. There was some bustling about happening because since Kangerlussuaq was taken in by the fog, the airbus from Denmark to Greenland couldn't get in either and there was no point in any other plane flying from Nuuk to Kangerlussuaq since all the passengers were headed for that airbus. I'm glad I wasn't in that plane, they had to turn back after a four-plus-hours of flying. I think they got to land in Iceland, though, and didn't have to fly all the way back to Copenhagen. That would have sucked.

Anyway, since I'd planned on staying one extra night in Kangerlussuaq it wasn't such a big deal for me to go back to Nuuk, my flight to Copenhagen was going to leave on the next day anyway. I would have liked to have seen the little hotel in Kangerlussuaq but at this point I'd already learned that with Greenland, you just better take what you get and not stress about it. Our hotel was super fancy and I had two vouchers for a free meal, it was pretty cool! I went out for a coffee with my friend once more, which was also nice because there's no way of knowing when we'll get to see each other again, living so far apart. I had a good night sleep in a luxurious bed and got up really early again for another flight the next day.

The new flight to Kangerlussuaq was also fine, we were flown in by the only female pilot in Air Greenland! She had two seconds to spare to let me take a photo of her. This was also pretty cool. We had some time to kill in Kangerlussuaq, so I managed to find a tour guide who'd drive me around the local sights. It was a bit odd, it wasn't an official tour, it was actually just me and this guy in a car, and it's always a little uncomfortable to be alone with a complete stranger because I am such a social weirdo. But anyway, he knew so much about everything in Kangerlussuaq and had a lot of stories to tell.

He drove me around the little town, the weather was incredible once again, though also very cold. At this point you kind of start to feel that you're in Greenland and even if you're only going to stay there for a day, you still need to really put on a lot of clothing.

We drove up and down a few hills and the guy showed me an abandoned military... building on the outside of town. I'm not sure what to call these buildings, I highly doubt they're anything important and I would hesitate to call anything I could get into 'a military base' because if it was a real base, I would not be able to get in. Anyway, it was really cool. Abandoned houses at the edge of the world, what more can you ask for.

We were trying to look for some wild animals, like muskox or reindeer but didn't see any. However, we did get to see one of the other things I came for: sled dog puppies!

They were so pretty and fluffy and funny! Especially the one that wanted to chase his own tail, then got embarrassed when he realized I noticed and took it out on his sibling. That dog is a bossy alpha dog in the making! There were also bigger sled dogs but you're not supposed to touch them or do anything with them unless the actual wrangler is there and maybe not even then. They're working dogs, not pets and they can be unpredictable. I was glad enough for the few minutes I got to hang out with the pups.

Then we just took in the sights and looked for the Russell Glacier - or the Big Ice, as my guide put it. I wish we'd had time to drive there. In the upper picture you can see it in the distance and even if that's not a very good photo, it just fills me with this tingling sense of adventure. I really, really want to see and touch a glacier. It's absolutely and completely unbelievable that you can be so close to something so ancient, so huge, so deadly and still be full of life, like Greenland is. My guide also arranges trips to the glacier, even overnight trips, so in the future I'll be saving up for that. Gotta try it.

Returning to the airport I found out that my outbound flight was late and after that everything started to go a bit downhill. As Air Greenland has only one airbus, there was a charter plane for all the people who couldn't fit into the cancelled flight on the previous day. I wasn't even actually supposed to be on that flight, I had a seat in the actual airbus; however I was put on the chartered plane that was just sad excuse of a flight, to be quite honest. I would rather not be a buzzkill or a nasty person in a public blog, but that charter plane was seriously crap, I'm sorry to say. It was a Danish company that I luckily have forgotten the name of now (you got off easy). The flight attendants were incredibly rude, and I could not get a bottle of water on that flight, not if my life depended on it. I just wanted a bottle of water! There was free booze and I saw the flight attendants drinking bottled water but I could not get one and I was pissed! At this point I was very, very tired. The plane had been delayed for about six hours, I think.

Finally we arrived to Copenhagen, but at that point it was already very late in the evening and we couldn't get through the security so we had to sleep in the check-in lounge. I met an Australian reported and we had a nice chat but the whole experience from that on was just a nightmare. It was maybe one or two in the morning and a person in that lounge tried to hurt herself in a quite public way and having seen that and having stood there watching as the security and the paramedics came, it was just extremely disturbing and I couldn't get it out of my head. Spending the night like that and then trying to get my ass into the plane to Helsinki, it was not easy. I must have looked like I was drunk off my mind but I just hadn't slept at all. In the plane to Helsinki, I kept nodding off on the person sitting next to me and have no recollection of any stewardess ever speaking to me. In Helsinki I almost missed my connection to home when I fell asleep on the couch, right at the gate. I never heard any calls that the plane was leaving. Luckily some kind lady woke me up and I rushed in.

So that was the end of my second trip to Greenland. I won't judge the trip by how it ended, by this time I've learned that when you travel, weird shit just happens. It will always happen. All in all I enjoyed the Nuuk Kulturfestival a lot, I enjoyed meeting other artists and exchanging experiences with them, I enjoyed meeting my local friends again, I really enjoyed the boat excursions and abandoned houses. I enjoyed the weather. Many days later, I can still feel that burst of arctic fresh air you feel in Greenland. I think it's quite unique and worth the trip alone. It's a memory that will come back to me for a long time, I hope. At least until next time.

Cheers, you magnificent bastard of a country.


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