Qaqordoq – Say What?

We finally made landfall in Greenland, and on my birthday, to make it all the more amazing. Plus, I get to say that I spent my birthday in a place that even I can’t pronounce correctly (listen here for the real sound of the Greenlandic language, much less guttural than all those q’s make you think).

Although Qaqordoq is the largest town in southern Greenland, with a population of about 3,000, it’s kept its small town ways. We were greeted , as we neared town, by these fisherman with fish to sell, nevermind that we were five stories up from their boat and many thousands of miles from our kitchens.

A minke whale also followed us into the harbor, but was playing pretty coy.

There’s no pier, so we had to anchor out and tender in, always an ordeal,

although we cheered up when we saw their very well-stocked souvenir shop, which included things like green seal-fur mukluks and the super-soft and beautiful but hideously expensive scarves woven from musk ox hair. And when I say expensive, I mean that I saw a beautiful one and took it over to Shel and said that it would make a great birthday present at $50. He hastily pointed out that I’d made a fundamental currency translation error, and the scarf was actually $500.

The look of the town reflects the fact that Greenland, like Iceland and the Faroes, has no native trees, so all the houses are built of corrugated sheet metal imported mainly from Denmark.

The street names are Danish too. Here’s Vatican street.

Downtown Qaqordoq boasts what we were told is Greenland’s only fountain.

We went into the one small supermarket, looking for whale blubber, seal steaks, and the like. Instead we found Carte d’Or ice cream, the brand we buy in France, as well as Ben and Jerry’s

and Starbucks, labeled in English.

We heard singing from the church right next to the supermarket and stuck our heads in, to find a very sparsely-attended mass in progress. Later we learned that at least some of the attendees were cruise passengers from our ship.

There were lots of pretty examples of Native art scattered around the town,

and we did see these two young women in bright Native dress, although it wasn’t clear to me whether that was in honor of our visit, or a daily occurrence.

Even the town’s huge oil tanks were painted with a Native motif.

We only had a few hours in town, and as we sailed away from Greenland we were treated to more icebergs, making this definitely one or my most unusual birthdays ever!

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5 Comments on “Qaqordoq – Say What?”

  1. Sharyn Says:

    I do hope you bought those green mukluks. You might not get back to Greenland to get them!

  2. Lauren Says:

    Not just Starbucks, but Starbucks Seattle!

  3. Emily Says:

    Belated Happy Birthday… We share the same natal day! I had a wonderful b’day but have to admit that yours was much more exotic. Those green mukluks might have looked rather fetching with the hat you bought earlier. :)!

  4. Marya Says:

    Happy Birthday, Abra. Those are expensive scarves. I have one from our Anchorage days, and they came from this place: http://www.qiviut.com/shop_scarves_stoles.cfm
    Surprisingly, the prices have gone up modestly since then.

  5. Abra Bennett Says:

    Wow, Marya, thanks, that’s a cool site. I guess muskox is just really expensive, no matter where you get it.


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