Greenland villages are small by any standard. The largest town in Greenland, the largest island on earth, has less than 20,000 inhabitants. Nanortalik has about 1,100 people making it the eleventh largest town on the island. So I was wondering what is the eleventh largest city in the US? If you go strictly by incorporated city limits, it is Austin, Texas. If you include the primary statistical area it is the Miami, Fort Lauderdale area with over six million residents.
The Sameness of it All
What was very striking to me was how similar everything was in this Greenland village. All of the homes were the same size, shape and had a second floor that was exceedingly small with the steep roof lines. All the homes had a very small room addition with a ventilation pipe sticking out of it, a tiny add-on bathroom. So where is the shower? There were no large homes in the village. Nobody seemed to make more money than their neighbor. No large home on the hill. All of the boats were the same size and all of the outboard engines were the same size. No carports or garages. A luxury here was a car, and I saw only a few.
All the crosses in the cemetery were the same size and construction, no large or differentiating stones. It was my perception the entire population was all in the same boat, so to speak. All were just trying to get by, survive by fishing and hunting. There was no industry, no large employer, no farms, no gardens. Many survive with the funds from Denmark through the Assistance to Fisherman and Hunters Act.
The Larger Town of Qaqortog
Now that we’ve cruised into a larger town, there is more diversity in the size of homes. Since everything must be imported, the selection of paint appears quite limited but still colorful. In our HOA, we recently expanded our color palette to over 400 colors and people said there might not be enough yellows.
While being guided around town by our young guide, a Danish college girl on summer break, I asked her about the numerous six inch pipes laying above ground, all heading downhill toward the sea. She stated they were sewer pipes. It did not seem appropriate to ask more questions, but I had many. How do they not freeze in the winter? Where do they drain? They appeared to be two halves of a pipe bound together by only large stainless steel hose clamps. Do they leak? The very rocky land explained why they do not have septic tanks, but what is in their place I wondered? As I said before, many questions go unanswered when you travel.
The explanation to some of my sewage disposal questions may be the same theory that was explained to me when I saw the Grand Canyon raft guides dumping the bucket toilets (liquids only) into the Colorado River. The same river where we got our drinking water and swam. The same river that 20,000 people visit every summer and have the same bucket practices. They told us : “The solution to pollution is dilution.” Maybe you can only flush when the tide is going out.
Here is a link to the restroom ‘facilities’ used in the Grand Canyon when I floated down it for 120 miles over 10 days.
Stone and Man Project
In 1994 about 20 artists joined together to create an open outdoor gallery. These artists from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland created 40 sculptures. Our guided tour walked us around to many of these stone sculptures. Most all of them are visible from the dock where the tender boats dropped us off.
Greenland is supported by the Danes. So college kids from Denmark looking for a summer gig apply for jobs in the tour industry of Qaqortoq. Turns out the support for Greenland by Denmark does not sit that will with everyone in Denmark. The deal was for Denmark to eventually get some return on their support funds from mining and other natural resources. Apparently this has not been all that successful.
Cruise Ship ‘The World’
The cruise ship ‘The World’ was visiting Qaqortoq the same day as the Seabourn Quest. ‘The World’ cruise ship is a floating condominium. The rooms are owned similar to a normal condominium. The annual assessments vary depending upon the destinations the condo owners vote to travel to. Two bedroom units are about 1,150 square feet and sell for around $4,000,000. Annual assessments are around $350,000. Since a boat does not last forever, the condo owners are really just leasing for 30-40 years. For more information on purchasing your condo at sea, click on SALES . We could be neighbors, but I think I would miss the frustrations of golf.
Being on ‘The World’ condominium association board would certainly present some challenges. Owners with this sort of money are not accustomed to someone telling them what they can and cannot do. I’m the HOA president of a 71 unit Home Owners Association. The condo at sea would be infinitely more difficult…
I See Abstracts Everywhere
Some designs just pop out to me. Often I’ll be the only one taking a photo of a design I discovered and I cannot imagine why everybody is not as excited as I am over my little discovery. Clearly, I do not expect someone to want a photo of two silver pipes on a blue background hanging over their couch. Generally, people want a horizontal image hanging over their couch. 😉
Too often people miss the small details both at home as well as when visiting a foreign destination. It is easy to become either overwhelmed or accustomed to your surroundings. The photo below is one of my favorite. It is essentially a weed growing next to the bottom side of a discarded fiberglass boat hull. I call these ‘found photos.’ A guidebook did not tell me about it and I’m quite certain nobody else photographed it this day, or maybe ever. I found it myself. However, someone needs to appreciate abstracts in the first place. I realize abstracts are not for everyone.
Shoot the Cruise Ships
I’m not convinced that having the only two canons on the island aimed at the seaport where cruise ships dock is a total coincidence. Certainly the town as a whole benefits from the cruise ship’s presence, but I’m not sure how this filters down to the individual residents. It bothers me when the passengers pay a crazy sum to go on the cruise but complain about the $10 museum entry fee or haggle with the local artists to knock off $2. When you travel, be a good guest in a foreign nation. Realize you are also representing your home country.
As a child, every single house in my home town had a government built clothesline made out of four inch pipes and thick wire strung between them. It would be difficult to find even one clothesline in the States nowadays. The home above apparently just washed every rug in the house. So now we know the bright and colorful exteriors extend inside as well.
In my photography I try to adhere to a rule, if the color is not a critical part of the image, it should be black and white. Blog photos often get a pass on this. I’m referring to the photos that make it into my Gallery. I can only hope a Greenlander doesn’t hit the lottery and decide to move into my HOA with our required muted colors. As the HOA President, I have enough troubles…
Next up will be St. John’s Newfoundland.