My first departing guests, Gaetan and Christophe, are ready to return home. Recommended by some local friends, we wait for our informal taxi driver . Is he going to be on time? Remember : a missed plane can ruin even the best cruise.
Our driver parks just in front of Breskell . The timing is perfect. My guests load their luggages , say good bye and gone they are….. My “taxi man” is returning this afternoon. He is a jack of all trades. I need to reinforce my bow for some future encounters with growlers. And they told me that’s this taxi driver can also help fixing my stainless piece of metal. I need some final adjustments. One o’clock, he told me. One o’clock it was when he picks me up for a drive to his shop. A short drive. No more than 5 minutes.
And this tall and impressive man explains that incidentally he drives also… helicopters! He works for KRCC , the local coast guard, searching and rescuing people stranded at sea or elsewhere. In the mean time, he owns also this tools shed… And several others renting houses…. To avoid nasty late surprises, I ask him right away how much he intends to charge me for the job.
“50 bucks… does that sound too much?”
No way, it’s fair …
Immediately, he brings a hand grinder and shows me around where is the drill press and other needed tools . Before he starts to explain how those tools work, I tell him that I know, let’s say… just a little bit about this manual work! He smiles, trusts me and soon disappears in an apartment to brew some coffee. Perfect for me. I like to work at my own pace, alone with myself and happy with it all. In no time, my reinforced part is adjusted and ready to take place on Breskell . It’s made to reinforce and protect the bow, at the water line, against any hard brushing with ice or growlers . A few minutes later, he comes down and asks my name. I reciprocate. “BISGAARD my name. And he adds :
“whatever you need, just ask.”
Well, first I need to pay you for the job.
“No, no, he replies. We are friends now, I don’t want your money.”
-Sorry sir, but I don’t agree. We have a deal and I intend to pay my debts…
He reluctantly agrees. I tend him the money, very please to have such a good new friend. That was not the end of my many surprises today. He gives me a tour of his domain, showing first a huge collection of public work machineries like a backhoe or a tractor ….
but I get the best part for the end of my visit.
A surprising collection of beautiful art works on antlers, whale bones, narval tusks and other ivory objects ….. I can’t believe it. First, I met a taxi driver, then a helicopter pilot, a machine shop owner, a landlord , a public entrepreneur and finally a fine collector of art works. All in the same man. A man full of surprises and so very nice. Originally from Denmark, he came here to start some business. As he said proudly, he made it! And on a surprising scale….
Time to drop me to my boat. He confirms that he would be back soon to bring my last guests, Antoine and Mary, to their plane. No need to worry this time.
Before taking us to the airport, my new friend Bisgaard wants to show us his secret garden, his next dream project. In a kind of plaza mall, he plans to build a leisure center, several bars and others places of entertainment . Some gambling may be? Not out of place in Vegas but here in Ilulissat…. When completed, it’s going to be something really special here, in remote Greenland.
As a happy conclusion for a really nice cruise, we drop, on time for their plane , Antoine and Marie at the airport …..
On our way home , Bisgaard offers me another unexpected visit. Guess where? In the cemetery! A place overflowed with past memories. Together we take a meditative walk around the tombs.
Each one tells a particular story to an attentive passer-by. I remark that a lot of those occupants died at a very young age. My friend tells me another story about life here. The story of a hard life in those high latitudes . When a baby was six months old, the entire family made a party . The baby now has a huge chance to survive…. Half of the babies died before this age…
Yes, a difficult life indeed.