29 August, 2000
Dr. Radtke, John, Wendy, Anderson, Josh, and I over breakfast agreed because of the uncertainty of weather conditions that we will try to leave Qaanaaq today. The helicopter's first flight came in at 8:30 AM and three more delayed flights are before us because of yesterday's fog. The pilot who has been flying us to the sites will be taking the return flight to Denmark for R & R today, and a new pilot will be taking his place. They fly three weeks on and three weeks off. Hopefully by afternoon we should be able to get find room on one of the flights. They appear to be flying along the coast instead of over the ice cap which takes more time, but has more visibility. There is still some snow on the far sides of the bay, but at our end it has melted.
Finally by afternoon we got the go ahead to get our gear ready. We loaded up Hans Jensen's truck and took everything to the helicopter landing area. Han's mother and I had visited in the morning. She lives at the Alderhous and like many of the women there does bead work. She showed Wendy and I many of the beautiful things she had made and then generously gave us each a gift. In the south of Greenland the traditional costume includes this intricate beadwork in capes resembling the Scandinavian knitted sweater. Hans is one of her sons and owns the hotel in Qaanaaq. He has tourists coming all year round, but in summer there is a wider spread of nationalities. Curiously, only northern Europeans seems to be able to get permission to go through Thule airforce base during the winter months. We discussed the logic of this and couldn't come up with anything better than that possibly it was believed they understood ice and snow better?
We said goodbye to the wonderful people who had befriended us through our visit, especially Tornge Kavigak', the caretaker of the Alderhous. She was continually looking for ways to make our stay more pleasant; her warm smile alone transcended all language barriers making each of us feel at home.
Mahalo Nui Loa and Aloha Qaanaaq, Greenland.
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