Up at 7AM to finish packing our personal gear and head over to the airport to check in early. IGERT is still traveling heavy. In this case Laura is moving gear, including a zodiac and lake coring equipment, to East Greenland for field work she will do after our stay in Nuuk. Ate some breakfast at the kantina (yea baked goods) and headed back over to the airport, waiting for our flight. A quick and delightful stay at the airport, free of security checks and TSA safety warning announcements, before we walked out on the runway and boarded the Dash-8. Weather was nice and we got some beautiful views of the Watson river valley above Kangerlussuaq before we climbed through the clouds and were only able to peer intermittently at the ice cap edge below. Our drop into Nuuk revealed a rockier but greener landscape and icebergs floating in the fjord. One extra pass on the runway in Nuuk and we were taxiing to a halt. The compartments of the plane were open and luggage was heading out with the props still spinning before they had even cooled down the engines. Inside, all the luggage was in hand in 10 minutes. We grabbed our gear and went out to a waiting line of taxis, of which we stuffed three full of us and our stuff. Off we headed into the big city past buildings of every cheery color in the rainbow to our email arranged destination… which turned out to not be our actual destination. A confused look from the folks in charge at the university housing led to a bit of haggling, which finally led to Ross pulling out emails that confirmed our reservation in the dorms. Pretty soon everything was worked out and we headed out with much of our gear on our backs for the dorms. We decided to return for the zodiac and lake coring equipment with a taxi rather than lug it across town. Lunch in pizza place, then searched for some internet, and called our friend Upa – one of the exchange students who came to Dartmouth from Nuuk last year. Internet so far is hard to find and fantastically expensive. Our first installment here came at about $20 an hour, purchased in 3 hr blocks from the hotel next door. Rumor has it that the library has free internet available, so we will have to check that out.
Nuuk is a major city by my standards, lots of colorfully painted houses, a few soviet-bloc style apartments and some brand new 6 story buildings scattered about. I haven’t gotten a confirmation on this, but we are told that about 14,000 people live here, so you can decide for yourself if my idea of a city is realistic. Apparently the city is rapidly growing though. There’s an incredible amount of construction compared to the economic slowdown in most American cities. Here the skyline is dotted with cranes. The best part about arriving in Nuuk, however, is that the air smells like the ocean. It’s nice to have some humidity again after the Kangerlussuaq desert experience, even if it comes with some exhaust.
In the evening we met up with Upaluk, one of the Greenlandic students who came to Dartmouth last year. She gave us a wonderful tour of the old part of the city. Perfectly amazing! She knows everyone we walk by it seems and they all love her. We are invited into a Greenlandic Language school by one of the instructors named Ulf waving us in from the window, offered coffee and tea at a small café that had already closed, encouraged to sign up for Tango lessons, and generally felt like we were being pulled into the core of the community on day one. Bottom line, Upa is amazing and so are the people of Nuuk. I think we’re all really looking forward to the rest of our stay here and getting to know more people. I in particular, as one of the less precocious members of the group, am really relieved out how outgoing and welcoming everyone has been so far. It makes it tremendously easier to for us awkward scientist types when we’re met more than halfway!