In the kingdom of Gardar, by Marc Givry

  • 1627 Bateau de croisiere et elevage de moutons pres de Igaliku©EB
  • 0632 Avec Eloise au petit-dej a Igaliku©EB
  • 0740 Observation d un ours depuis Igaliku©EB
  • 1321 Marc se protege des moustiques a la pause picnic©EB

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 to continue.

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