Melanie’s time check

by Guest Blogger

July 7, 2005

It’s the wee hours of July 6, 01:15 in the morning to be exact. Arne is

up in the crow’s nest maneuvering the ship through heavy pack ice in

Scoresby Sound. At some point in the next five or six hours we will

hopefully be out in open water, heading north. Martina and I are both

at work on our laptops, trying to be productive since it’s not

worthwhile to even try and sleep with all the jarring and scraping from

the ice.

The previous night, when we arrived at Ittoqqortoormiit, we moved the

ship’s clocks forward one hour so that we would be on Greenland time,

and in the morning put up posters around the village offering rides out

to the ship for open boat – from 15:00 to 17:00, and then again from

19:00 to 21:00. This should have worked out well since it gave the crew

a couple of hours to see the village before having to get back to the

ship to host open boat. But five minutes before the first open boat

started, we found out that all (or most) of east Greenland is on

Greenland time, EXCEPT for Ittoqqortoormiit, which sets its clocks one

hour ahead. Honestly, I still don’t understand exactly what happened,

all I know is that we all got an extra hour of sleep last night, but we

had a major scramble and some moderate pandemonium when our open boat

started with most of the crew still ashore.

At any rate, the open boats were fantastic. Five hundred people live in

Ittoqqortoormiit, and although I don’t know what percentage of the town’s

adults came to the open boat, I know for sure that close to 100 percent

of the kids visited. Twice. They loved it and so did we. The crew did a

great job managing enthusiastic, energetic kids getting in and out of

boats and around the ship, along with the many adults who came out to

visit.

We also heard some heart breaking stories about the impacts of global

warming on the village and their lives. The mayor talked about how much

less food the hunters are able to bring in, now that sea ice appears so

late in winter and breaks up earlier in spring. Likewise, he described

how the dog sledding season used to start in October, but these days

cannot start until Christmas because the ice is too thin to support a

sledge and dog team. Although Greenlanders are used to adjusting to

changes in the climate, the mayor said changes are now taking place so

quickly that folks are unable to adapt.

I wish we could have spent more time at Ittoqqortoormiit, but we have a

schedule to adhere to and one can never really tell what the ice

conditions will be like until they’re encountered. Weighing all the

options, it’s really best to lay down some tracks for Zackenberg and

allow for a few “ice days” along the way.

– Melanie

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