We finally reach Upernavik. From the sea, all seems still and tranquil in this village of 1300 souls. A typical Greenland small outpost with its colored houses wedged between sea and mountains and without much space to spare, even going up on higher ground.
We pick up our last alignment carefully.
The entrance of this beautiful tiny harbor is rocks strewn. Once inside, I wonder where to dock Breskell. Not much room until we spot a fishing boat fastened to some hight docks. Better than nothing, with the certitude to sleep during “the night” or, at least, during the normal hours of the day devoted elsewhere to this activity. The boat safe and tidy, we decide it’s time to get to the sailors’s favorite welcome center: the tavern. When landing on new shores, the local bar is the first and most important stop for the mariner in his new harbor. Added to the formal information about the everyday life’s necessities: post office, grocery stores, you share in this mariners institution some cold beers with the locals and get up to date with the latest important local gossips.
In most of the best organized ports of call, the bar sits just in front of the docks, on the other side of the street. A compulsory commodity for some sailors when it’s time to board again a ship. The straight line, without any possibility of short-cuts, stays always as the best option. No luck today. No tavern around the dock. We turn and turn around in this pocket-size city without any success. Now, try to ask for this business when no one speaks your language, it being French or English. On the other side, our knowledge of the Greenlandic language is minimal.
We quit that unproductive quest and walk away, enjoying the beautiful seashore. A man gets out from his house and notices us.
“Coffee “ he inquires?
Why not. And we start talking with him in English naturally . A language any civilized citizen of the world should know, at least when you think like an American. With signs reinforce by weird and unusual sounds, he makes us understand that on his side there is no English whatsoever. Same for his wife. No bar, no english, we are really in a far-away, god-forsaken lonely place meeting now with some really warm-hearted people.
Soon, we are invited inside his house, sitting together around a table, drinking coffees and watching TV with no other way of communication than smiling.
Our host improves the dialog by writing ” Josef ” on a piece of paper; then showing with his finger his wife, “Lina” he announces. We start a slow and laborious conversation. Progresses are made.
Josef confirms that in this hamlet, there is not a single bar! No need for it. You want to meet people? A special gathering place exists in town with a special day dedicated just for that purpose. Friday is dancing day when those quiet and untroubled citizens meet and have fun.
Alcohol, beer? Sure, only if you bring your own. Finally, nothing to worry about, in Upernavik, for our beloved wife.
We departed not without a promise from Josef to visit our boat. Later, we give him a royal tour of our nice floating home. During our stay, he visited us every single day and did everything to help us. A wonderful man this Josef and another one of our good friends in Greenland. Finally, we find a “citizen of the world” speaking english at the post office.
Another Knud! His job during the year? English teacher at the local school. During the summer, he landed this part-time employment at the post office. Knud became also a familiar. A fun looking and partying fellow, he acted as our local translator and personal “fixer”.