Dancing with the Inuit, singing with the Polish (or at least trying)
I never realized until I came on this trip how much I had settled into routine. My routines are different than most people (since I work from home) which gives the illusion that I have none, but my weeks did seem to involve a rotation of the same activities. However, after three months onboard Arctic Monkey the unexpected has become routine and our second morning back in Nuuk was a perfect example of this.
Around ten in the morning Zetty and I were still sipping our coffee below deck when Ian announced that there was a group going hiking. In a rush I decided to join, changed clothes, and grabbed my camera. I walked into the ‘shimmy shammy’ and was pleasantly surprised to see six other people who looked about my age (OMG friends!!). Trying to play it cool and not seem over eager, while my internal dialogue was something along the lines of ‘please be my friends, pleeeeeease let’s be friends!’, we chatted and exchanged pleasantries. Two of the guys, Oli and Ben, were new crew members onboard Suilvan, captained by our friends John and Linda. The others were onboard Hawk, an Alaskan boat newly captained by Joe Wolfe; that had come in on passage from Canada the night before. It could just be the fact that we are all in the same situation but we pretty much became instant friends; completely comfortable and oblivious to the fact we barely knew each other. However, I’ve found that when you’re cruising it’s fairly easy to strike up friendships because the activity tends to draw the same type of people. So, inherently you already know one thing about each new acquaintance.
We took a taxi to the base of a mountain just five minutes from the harbor. Looking through a rock strewn field we managed to make out a faded pathway and started to head upwards. It was at this point that I realized I had signed up for about a six hour hike. Man, I wish I would of had something more substantial than cheerios for breakfast.
I find the first half of any task measured in length of time the hardest. When I ran a marathon I remember my runner’s high kicking in once I had completed the first 13.1 which meant the total number of miles left started to decrease. On our passage to Greenland when we hit day five I felt myself relax knowing I could start counting down rather than up. The first part of our hike was no different, sweaty and out of breath I tried to snap pictures while simultaneously scaling boulders. Besides an insane amount of rocky pitches the first part of our climb was average. The last part of any climb or hike is usually my favorite. A moment that brinks of exhaustion and euphoria; satisfaction is within reach. This time is was no different and during the last 200 meter pitch or so I felt my endorphins kick in as the wind grew increasingly aggressive and I saw the flag marking the top. We all rejoiced in summiting Ukkusissat.
On this particular stay in Nuuk, Arctic Monkey was rafted up to a Polish boat named Lady Dana, the first Polish boat to circumnavigate the North Pole. In addition, she was the hot spot to be on both Friday and Saturday evenings. The crew of Lady Dana knows how to entertain. We were welcomed aboard with warm greetings and friendly smiles. No guest ever had a drinkless hand or a lack of food. In the evenings we found ourselves piled down below singing polish songs and drinking too many vodka shots. The musically inclined members on our diverse group took turns grabbing the guitar and leading everyone in song. At one point the captain, Ryzhard, handed me a piece of handwritten sheet music in Russian. I didn’t have the heart to tell him Russian isn’t exactly my forte so I just went ahead and butchered the language in the name of song.
Next Oli took over and began playing songs in English: The General, Blackbird, American Pie. It was one of those nights remembered in cover songs that are in no way perfect but somehow so characteristic to that moment that if you had your choice you would listen to that version as a recording rather than the actual artist every time.
Around 1:00 am the group started to drift and we began our evening farewells. As we were parting ways someone threw out a “Bars?”. Everyone looked back and forth before someone chimed in, “Well, maybe just for one.” With little encouragement we were headed downtown for a taste of Nuuk’s nightlife. We opted for a smaller bar with live music. Skis, antlers and kayaks adorned the walls and ceilings much like you might find at a ski town bar in the United States. The dance floor was packed with enthusiastic locals. Almost immediately after walking in we were befriended by an older woman named Maria. For some reason she took an immediate liking to our group, or more specifically I should say to a few people in our group. She suddenly clutched my hands (almost a little too tightly!) and pulled me to the dance floor, clearly we were going to be soul sistas. After a couple songs Ian moved in and tried to take my place dancing with Maria. Something was lost in translation as her mood shifted and she jerked back refusingto let go of my hands. The next person to attempt an interjection was Ollie. His attempt was slightly more successful as she agreed to take one of his hands and one of mine and we continued on with Maria trying to twirl both of us at the same time. We danced until the bar closed down around three at which point we asked Maria if we could take group picture. She happily obliged and it was at this moment that she discovered Jeremy. Maria pulled out her phone and made the motion to take a photo which we assumed was going to be a group photo but suddenly she went right up to Jeremy’s face and began repeatedly taking photos of him. Jeremy was less than pleased as we all began to laugh hysterically which only encouraged her to take more photos. Desperate for escape he declared that we should probably start making our way home and so concluded our Nuuk nightlife experience. Walking home we declared that our group had just had the best unexpected 24 hours possible.