Here’s a three photo panorama of Helsinki, Finland from the roof of the Sokos Vaakuna Hotel across to the main train station. Love that Nordic light.
The first two are southeast Greenland on the approach from Toronto to Keflavik, Iceland. Much closer than when you’re lucky enough to glimpse Greenland on a clear day from 10,000 meters on a trans-Atlantic flight.
From Keflavik International you transfer to Reykjavik city field for an Air Iceland flight to Kulusuk, east Greenland. The main city on the entire 21,000 kilometer coast of east Greenland is Tasiilaq (hardly a proper city really, with just over 2000 people). Trouble is, it’s on an island without enough flat space for an airstrip. So you take a helicopter or speedboat across the Ammassalik Fjord. Here is an iceberg from the speedboat, along the way.
It is a short walk into town, and these sled dogs are there to welcome you.
Here are a few photos of Tassilaq, beginning with icebergs in the tiny bay beyond town. I’m guessing that once they’ve floated in they stick around for a while. Once they have floated into the mouth of the little bay, what are the odds they will soon find their way back out?
And finally, a multiframe panorama with a wider view.
A little stream flows through town from what they call the valley of flowers. This is where the town cemetery is, row after row of mostly unmarked white crosses. Follow the stream up the hill and you’re rewarded with this fine view back across town.
The workshop Stunk carves all manner of bones, tusks and antlers – seal, reindeer, ox, bear, narwhal – into figurines, necklaces and the like.
Here, a narwhal tusk is roughed into shape for carving.
And this is a result of Stunk handiwork, a tupilak, a sort of shamanic fetish carved from seal bone.
This is our new friend Hans, proprietor of Stunk, with his much-loved daughter Paula. Hans was kind enough to host us in his home, a real honor.
It’s not every day: Here is new inventory for his shop on Hans’s front porch, the humerus bone of a polar bear, given to him by a friend.
These skins do not necessarily have anything to do with the bone on Hans’s porch. They are hanging on a line all the way across town.
After having taken the speedboat on the way from Kulusuk airport to Tasiilaq, we rode the helicopter back to the airport. Here are some of the views. In this top one, Tasiilaq is on the little bay in the center. If you click to enlarge the photo you’ll see Tasiilaq town on the bank on the left.
This is sort of a first pass at the Greenland photos we brought back. I’ll be going through them all this fall and posting more to the Greenland Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. And this trip will be included in my upcoming book about travel in the north, which will cover Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, maritime northeastern Canada and Finland. Working title is Out in the Cold. Watch for it, and see my other two books.
Got a little side-tracked. In the process of loading new Greenland and Finland photos from our recent trip onto the big computer, and I came across a photo from this time last year that caught my eye. These elephants live in Amboseli park near our base that trip, the very nice Tortilis Camp. Click the photo to view these guys larger on EarthPhotos.com.
Outstanding trip to Tasiilaq, in east Greenland. On a walk through town the other day, these polar bear skins:
Nothing is wasted around here and all hunting is strictly sustainable.
Consider the seal: As food, seal meat is protein rich for tough Arctic winters, and you’ll find it served dried, stir fried, roasted, as steaks or in suaasat, a seal soup with rice and onions. Beyond food for the family, seal parts feed the sled dogs, who are every bit as essential to an Inuit family as your car. Before electricity, seal blubber lit the Inuit night, loaded into a carved soapstone, using cotton grass, moss or even dried rabbit dung as a wick. On winter hunting trips seal blubber is still used this way. The skin makes insulating clothes. Bones are carved into tools and tourist trinkets here, at Workshop Stunk:
My new friend Hans Ulriksen carved a tupilaq for me, a traditional avenging totem, from seal bone.
Here, preparing a narwhal tusk.
This was worth it. It’s the first morning at our tiny cabin in the Finnish lakes district. After a bolt through Greenland via Iceland, overnight flights and lots of public places for five days, now things slow down.
Already yesterday, first thing, we enjoyed sauna and a naked swim in the (very cold) lake. Every summer we see the new generation of our local ducks, but last night toward midnight, a first – a swan family, the adults on either end and six little ones, swimming by from the little island out into the open water. Isn’t six a lot of baby swans?
More than a week stretches ahead of us now to enjoy this nice cool (highs around 20C/68F) summer weather, sleep late, slow down and go through all those gorgeous pictures from Greenland.
Only thing is, I’m kind of drawn to check each morning on the ugly Trump derailment. Otherwise, please excuse my (mostly) online absence for a week. We got swans to watch.
Met a good man named Hans Ulriksen, who carves things, bones, tusks, antlers, at his shop in Tasiilaq, east Greenland. Hans had us to his house, an honor to meet his family. This, on his front porch, he says is a polar bear bone, the humerus, which is the bone between the shoulder and the elbow. A friend brought it to him. It’s not every day.
The fabulous weather continued for another day. This is Tasiilaq town from the little stream up by the town cemetery. So green you wouldn’t think it’s Greenland.
And the area from the air. Just a really, deeply beautiful bit of the earth:
We’ll get these up on EarthPhotos.com when we get back home so that they’ll be enlargable. Hope you enjoy them for now.
Good day here today, they say the best weather day of the year where, at this hour, just shy of midnight, the kids are playing football still. Clouds rolled back at midday and the sun on the hills is tremendous. But … those photos are still to come. Tomorrow is a travel day, on to Iceland and then Finland, so those will have to wait. Here we have three from yesterday: