26 July 2023, Igaliku,
We are in the kingdom of Gardar ("Gardar" also lends it's name to the
small village of Igaliku where we are staying), although it is not truly
a kingdom. Maybe just a paradise for sheep, and for tourists now as
well. Of course, far be it from me to compare tourists and sheep. By the
way, numerically speaking, for now here the sheep are still winning.
Admittedly, UNESCO has classified the episcopal palace of Gardar as a
world humanity heritage site, thus attracting multitudes of tourists. It
was indeed the seat of a bishopric from 1126 to 1377, during the golden
age of the Vikings. Built from 1126 the cathedral was dedicated to Saint
Nicolas, the Patron Saint of sailors, a patronage that you may like.
Regarding the multitudes of humans, I shouldn't get carried away. In
winter there must only be twenty permanent residents, then in summer
about forty, and when a cruise ship anchors in the fjord at most it may
be counted in hundreds. These indicative figures have been communicated
by Eloise, the French cook of the Bydgehotel in Igaliku. The number of
cruise passengers she knows only too well, because when the arrival of a
ship is announced she must prepare dozens of gourmet coffees (but no
more evening meals than usual). In effect, if the cruise passenger is
greedy, he is also careful, because he always comes back on board before
dinner is served. As if heading in before the wolves come down the
mountain. Of course, we didn't say there were no wolves here - bears
maybe, but we'll talk about that later.
That said, cruise passengers may be wrong not to take advantage of
Eloise's evening cuisine - delicious, I guarantee. Eloise is in fact a
patented backpacking cook. See her pedigree: high-level catering
training in Grenoble, cooking teacher in a catering school for 15 years,
cook in Crozet for those wintering in the southern islands. Cooking is a
way to travel for her, if possible in cool places under the high
latitudes, while sometimes returning to the country of her ancestors, to
Gresse en Vercors, where in the cemetery she told us seven generations
of family hold their arms out to her.
But back on topic. According to a breeder we met, there would be 18,000
animals each year entering the Narsaq slaughterhouse. Just for one farm,
Ipiutak's farm, Henning, the new farmer who last year replaced Agathe
and Kalista (France and Eric's friends), told us they produced 400
lambs, and he intends to expand.
So here, the sheep are fine, the tourists are fine, the mosquitoes are
fine (but I won't talk about that as I'm too afraid of letting myself go
to some excesses). For the bears I won't say as much. First of all, they
are not very numerous. And if there is one, it's because he was off course.
In general, the bears descend along the east coast, but they should stop
well before the ice terminus. And when they've missed the last stop, all
they have to do is go north by land. But their journey will be strewn
with anthropogenic pitfalls. At the time of our stay, a bear was
announced and the whole village was alerted. The information was correct
and we saw him quietly traversing the shore and then the mountains
towards the north. We learned later that another bear was also shot that
same morning in Qassiarsuk.
So we are in the kingdom of Gardar, a paradise for sheeps, tourists, but
not the bears. Perhaps also a future paradise for the geologists we have
just taken on board?
But for them, Gardar is not a kingdom, just a "magmatic province which
exposes an intracontinental rift system dated to the Middle
Proterozoic”. For your rule, we are now going to walk through an area
which dates back a good billion years. A number that makes me dizzy and
you will easily understand that I must withdraw discreetly from this
blog, to leave to the valiant and educated geologists the responsibility
Friend reader, my similar, my brother; that I hope is entertained by
these four episodes, whoever you are, I salute you.
Marc, Greenland, July 2023