Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Road to Uummannaq

The road to Uummannaq has never been easy, or short. 

Every single time we traverse the Atlantic, rushing from point A in Europe to point B in the States, we fly by immense white plains of Greenland, the largest  island in the world. We stare down, at what lies some 12, 000 m beneath us, and wonder: what would it feel like to happen to be there, right now? What if instead of heading some other 2,000 miles West or East to the port of our destination, the plane landed here, right now? Let’s say, what if there was an emergency stop?

We thoroughly scan the perfectly white surface trying to spot the familiar things – roads, constructions of any kind, or at least some secondary signs of life as we know it – let’s say chimney smokes – and of course, we do not find anything familiar. Ninety five percent of Greenland’s surface is pure ice. 

What would it feel like, we wonder,  if we happened to be stranded here – at the edge,  between frozen  oceans and rivers, pressure ices, mountains and barren lands -  for some time?

We think about that,  just for a moment, because in the next one,  we are being served the second hot breakfast (according the schedule, at this very point) which faultlessly takes our attention away from Greenland and its wonders and securely locks it on the ham and cheese sandwich and a chocolate cake. 

At the point when  we are done with the  breakfast, Greenland is still floating underneath us, slowly and silently, but  now other distractions are coming: new movie and immigration forms.

So,  we land in Greenland just for a second, in our dreams, and then we continue with our flight  according the itinerary till we end up inescapably in New York, Boston or Philadelphia, or if we fly in the opposite direction, in Oslo, Moscow or London.

But this time everything is different. We do land in Greenland, and this is not a dream. New York - Copenhagen - Kangerlussuaq – Assiat - Qaarsut –– and finally Uummannaq!  Planes, trains, automobiles, helicopters,  fishing  boats and dogsleds...

The road to Uummannaq obliges you to focus on the journey, and not the destination. To get there, you need to have gone every step of the way, which often differs from your initial itinerary. You probably will have to make some unplanned stops, and you most likely will experience some long delays. But  in the end the road to Uummannaq, which I personally think is the most beautiful place in the world,  gives you a  bigger-than-life experience.

To make it all the way to Uummannaq you need to understand that Uummannaq is not a geographical point on the map, but a state of mind. Those who succeed in it are happy in Uummannaq.

Ummannaq is indeed the state of mind. It’s a promised land, but it promises only one thing: transformation. Here one day you may meet your own heart, like a stranger you have never known.

Other places have beaches and great shopping quarters, but Uummannaq gives you something else –   a lantern that may lighten up your soul.  At Uummannaq airport we finally meet our old friend – Ole Jorgen Hammeken, a legendary polar explorer,  and Ann Andreasen, a woman of many powers and talents, a director of the Children's Home.

Children’s Home which is almost 100 years old, has looks of the world’s finest museum. You can easily spend the entire day wandering through its galleries and exploring all kind of medias: from fabric to sound, from stone to bone.  The children will run by you in a minute and disappear again in the twilight. We are going to know them better in the days to come.

The Road to Uummannaq has never been easy, or short for anyone.  And this is the best part of it!

1 comment:

  1. An intriguin beginning of a big project! I wish you all success!